Updated March 1, 2021 - 6:59 pm
The Golden Knights welcomed Tomas Nosek back to the lineup Monday for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19.
Nosek was removed from the Knights’ game against the Anaheim Ducks during the second intermission Feb. 9 after his positive test was discovered. He cleared the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols Feb. 23.
“It’s been a tough start for sure after the COVID, but I’ve been skating for more than a week, so I think I’m back in it,” Nosek said. “I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
Nosek’s battle with COVID-19 came at a particularly tough time for him and his family. His wife was scheduled to have labor induced soon after his positive test, so they rescheduled so he could be there for the birth of his second son, Matias.
“It was obviously one of the happiest moments in my life,” Nosek said. “It’s a great feeling to become a dad again.”
Nosek’s return at fourth-line center prompted a shakeup in the Knights’ bottom six. Rookie Keegan Kolesar moved to third-line right wing and forward Nicolas Roy was a healthy scratch.
Kolesar had three points in 14 games entering Monday. He also had 11 scoring chances at five-on-five his previous seven games, tied for third-most on the Knights. Roy has two points in 17 games.
“(Kolesar’s) made it so you can’t take him out of the lineup,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s the job of the guys coming in to do exactly what Keegan’s done and make those decisions as difficult as possible. As difficult as it was, it was really easy based on how he’s played. That’s a credit to him.”
Oscar Dansk returned as the Golden Knights’ backup goaltender Monday after playing three games with the Silver Knights.
Logan Thompson, who was the Golden Knights’ backup Saturday, was on the taxi squad after moving there Sunday. Thompson also was named the American Hockey League’s goaltender of the month Monday after going 4-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage his first five games.
The Golden Knights are still awaiting the return of Robin Lehner, who has not skated with the team since Feb. 9 because of an upper-body injury. DeBoer said Monday there is “no timeline” for Lehner’s injury.
“It’s all based on symptoms and becoming symptom-free,” DeBoer said. “I can just tell you that it’s heading in a positive direction and hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
Getting to know the Wild
The Knights and the Wild met for the first time Monday, but they’re about to get real acquainted with one another.
The teams will play each other four times in six days starting Monday. Minnesota was the only West Division team the Knights had not played previously.
The Wild have raced out to a hot start, thanks in part to rookie left wing Kirill Kaprizov, the Calder Trophy favorite, and improved goaltending. Minnesota was 29th in team save percentage last season but ranked fifth this year entering Monday.
“They’ve got a sneaky, deep lineup,” DeBoer said. “This is definitely going to be, for me, one of the four teams standing come playoff time and it’s a great test for us.”