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Knights make furious comeback to defeat Avalanche in OT

Updated April 14, 2024 - 6:58 pm

The Golden Knights, for 40 minutes, looked like they were the ones playing for the second straight day.

The Colorado Avalanche took the T-Mobile Arena ice with energy Sunday despite completing the second night of a back-to-back. But the Knights clicked into gear the final 20 minutes of regulation and first 1:23 of overtime to secure two important points in the race for playoff seeding.

Center Tomas Hertl’s game-winning goal completed his team’s three-goal comeback and finished off a 4-3 win against the Avalanche in front of an announced crowd of 18,239.

“I don’t think our guys felt like they were out of it,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We just needed something good to happen.”

That something didn’t appear to be coming most of the game.

The Knights trailed 3-0 entering the third period against a tired Colorado team. The Avalanche came out flying after a 7-0 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

The Knights had only eight shots on goal when Colorado right wing Mikko Rantanen put his team up 3-0 with 7:10 remaining in the second period. Their first attempt at a comeback was thwarted when Hertl saw a goal come off the board 6:57 into the second period for goaltender interference.

Their second was much better.

Left wing Ivan Barbashev scored the Knights’ first goal 2:56 into the third period. Center William Karlsson then scored twice to tie the game with 3:37 remaining in regulation.

Hertl completed the comeback in overtime with a deflection on center Jack Eichel’s shot from the point.

Goaltender Adin Hill made 21 saves in the win for the Knights (44-28-8), who have won two straight.

“We found another gear,” Cassidy said.

The Knights attacked the net in the third period to take advantage of a tired Colorado team. Barbashev’s goal came on a wraparound.

“We all know we didn’t play good in the first and second,” Barbashev said. “We had to talk about it in the locker room. We knew we had it. We went out there and played the right way.”

Karlsson then recorded his first multigoal game since Nov. 4, which also came against Colorado. His two goals give him 30 this year, his most in a single season since he scored 43 the Knights’ inaugural campaign.

The win keeps several playoff possibilities open with two games left in the regular season.

The Knights remain in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot and would start the playoffs on the road against the Dallas Stars if their seeding doesn’t change.

They are one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division. They’re also three points behind the Nashville Predators for the first wild-card spot.

“I think your game is not always going to be perfect, or at least every aspect,” Eichel said. “But you have to battle and compete. It was good resilience from the group.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Hertl’s impact

Hertl has two goals and an assist in four games since making his Knights debut.

It’s an impressive total considering he’s adapting to a new system and new teammates. These are also his first games since undergoing left knee surgery in February.

Hertl has provided an immediate boost in the faceoff dot as well. He went 19 of 25 Sunday to improve his winning percentage with the Knights to 70.5.

2. Hill bounces back

Hill started and finished a victory for the first time since March 12 despite a shaky moment early.

The Avalanche’s first goal came from just above the goal line after center Ross Colton’s shot bounced off Hill’s pads and into the net.

Hill shook that off and stopped the last eight shots he faced.

3. Line change works

Barbashev’s goal came after Cassidy switched up his forward lines.

Barbashev was demoted to the fourth line in the second period and left wing Paul Cotter played with Eichel and right wing Jonathan Marchessault.

Barbashev, a longtime fourth-line forward in St. Louis, received the message from Cassidy and proceeded to jumpstart the Knights’ rally with his goal.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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