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Robin Lehner ‘ready to go’ after Knights’ other goalies lifted team

Laurent Brossoit is starting to feel at home in Las Vegas.

One sign? The Golden Knights goaltender — who was born in Port Alberni, British Columbia and played in Edmonton and Winnipeg his first seven NHL seasons — wore a sweater last week because it got “a little bit cooler out.”

The high was 58 degrees Fahrenheit in Las Vegas on Saturday for the Knights’ game against the Colorado Avalanche. It was 24 degrees Fahrenheit that day in Winnipeg.

“It doesn’t take long to get used to the heat here,” Brossoit said. “I think I’m soft now.”

Brossoit may have a lower tolerance for the cold, but his statement doesn’t apply to his play. He’s shouldered most of the Knights’ workload in net after the All-Star break because goaltender Robin Lehner had an upper-body injury.

Coach Pete DeBoer said Monday that Lehner is “back,” “ready to go” and will likely start Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. The stretch the Knights went without their starter still should give them confidence in their other options at the position in case a similar stretch arises.

“The more I play, the better I feel,” Brossoit said. “I think that’s probably the case for anyone. The results aren’t really there right now in the last little stretch of games, but there’s a lot of parts of my game that I’m liking and there’s always parts of the game that you want to continue to improve on.”

Brossoit, who signed a two-year, $4.65 million contract as a free agent this offseason, didn’t get a chance to get in a groove early on. He started 12 of the Knights’ first 46 games.

It didn’t help that he had an upper-body injury that kept him from appearing in a game between Jan. 2 and 25. But when he’s been in the crease, he’s been solid.

Brossoit has been especially good lately when the Knights have needed him to be. He’s started five of the team’s seven games after the All-Star break and has a .919 save percentage and 2.22 goals-against average in that span. His record? Just 1-3-1, because the Knights have averaged two goals per game in his starts.

“It’s incredibly frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Brossoit said. “Even the best teams go over stretches of games where they’re not winning. … There’s still lots of parts of our game as a whole that looks really good and we’re improving on.”

Rookie goaltender Logan Thompson also made a start with Lehner out and picked up his first NHL win Feb. 20 against the Sharks by stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced. The Knights’ goaltenders combined save percentage after the All-Star break is .912. Removing Lehner’s lone start against Calgary — in which he gave up six goals and 33 shots due in part to a poor effort in front of him — jumps that to .930.

For context, Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury’s combined save percentage in their Jennings Trophy-winning season last year was .923.

“They’re both good goalies,” said defenseman Shea Theodore of Brossoit and Thompson. “They move the puck well. They’re really solid in net. … I just think in general they’ve done a great job.”

The Knights can’t expect their backup goaltenders to put up Jennings Trophy-winning numbers all season. But seeing Brossoit and Thompson perform well has to make the team pleased with the depth it’s built at the position.

Getting Lehner back also means the Knights are returning to full strength at goaltender as they jockey for playoff position their final 29 games.

“He’s a vocal guy,” Brossoit said of Lehner. “He’s a leader. Anytime he’s in the room and practicing with us and in games and we’re hearing his voice it feels more like the team.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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