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Motivated Jonathan Marchessault scores twice in Golden Knights win

Through the first two games of the round robin, Golden Knights left wing Jonathan Marchessault was held without a point.

His most significant impact other than three shots on goal came with about eight minutes gone in the second period of Thursday’s 6-4 win over St. Louis.

Marchessault was shoved into the net by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, and the little ball of rage retaliated with a cross-check that negated the remainder of a power play.

But Saturday, a motivated Marchessault scored two goals in the Knights’ 4-3 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Knights earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and will meet Chicago in a best-of-seven quarterfinal series. The schedule has yet to be announced.

“I think it’s something we talked about since the beginning,” Marchessault said. “We came here with one goal, and that’s the Stanley Cup, and we’ve got to take it one step at a time. But we came here to take every challenge ahead of us. We did a good job. We wanted first seed after the round robin, and we got it done.”

The fiery Marchessault was held in check through the first two games of the round robin after finishing fourth on the Knights with 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) during the regular season.

But he converted a penalty shot 3:02 into the third period after being tripped on a breakaway by Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves to give the Knights a 3-2 advantage. It was the first postseason penalty shot in franchise history.

Marchessault patiently coasted across the blue line and looped in from the left wing before wristing a shot past Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

“It was kind of a broken play, because Nate (Schmidt) was coming out of the box there and he was in the zone and he decided to change,” Marchessault said. “It was kind of weird that I jumped on the ice and Shea (Theodore) had perfect position and it was an unreal pass. But at this point, that’s probably what we expect from Shea now.”

Marchessault opened the scoring for the Knights when he battled in front on a power play and redirected Theodore’s long shot from the point.

In 16:58 of ice time, Marchessault finished with four shots on goal, two hits and two takeaways despite a 35.3 shot attempts percentage at five-on-five, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

Here are three more takeaways from the win:

1. Touting Theo

On the Knights’ second goal, Nicolas Roy and Ryan Reaves each fired a shot on net and hacked at the loose puck before Roy’s backhand fluttered through traffic and across the line.

Theodore was credited with an assist despite the fact that Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov kicked the puck out of the crease during the scramble.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little favorable scorekeeping. Maybe Theodore is finally starting to get some star treatment in his home country.

The defenseman from Langley, British Columbia, finished with two assists in 24:05 of ice time and also sprung Marchessault for a breakaway that led to his penalty shot.

Theodore has been one of the breakout stars of the postseason with four points in three games.

“I thought he was elite. And that’s at both ends,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I thought the way he defended tonight was fantastic. He’s learned to defend with his feet. I think I’ve said this before, but I think this guy is going to be in the Norris (Trophy) conversation for years to come here.”

Added Marchessault: “Shea was good the first year with us. But his game where it’s at right now is just, when you talk about top 10 defensemen in the league, he has to be up there.”

2. “Hey, batter-batter”

It was noticeable at times on the TV broadcast, but there were several reports from media watching the game inside Rogers Place that the chatter coming from the Knights bench could be heard throughout the empty arena.

Compared to the quiet Avalanche, the Knights apparently sounded like a dugout full of high school baseball players heckling an opposing pitcher.

“I guess when you’re playing at T-Mobile, it’s kind of hard to hear the players down on the ice. But in an empty arena, it’s probably a little bit easier,” forward Alex Tuch said. “We’ve got a lot of vocal guys. I mean, leading it off is Marchessault and (Ryan) Reaves, who are very vocal, whether it’s towards our bench trying to pump us up or getting under the other team’s skin. You saw Reaves doing that a lot tonight, and I think little things like that help us win.”

3. Big blocks

Defenseman Zach Whitecloud continues to log key minutes short-handed and helped the Knights kill five of Colorado’s six power plays.

Whitecloud came up with a key block on Nathan MacKinnon’s drive from the left circle late in Colorado’s first power play, and he got in front of Nazem Kadri’s shot with the Knights down a man midway through the second period.

The 23-year-old rookie finished with four blocked shots and played 6:35 of his 16:27 with the Knights on the penalty kill.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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