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Graney: Knights goalie playing his best when needed most

Updated April 2, 2024 - 10:55 pm

It is what has been needed as this playoff push commenced, a goalie for the Golden Knights who would stand tall when needed most. Logan Thompson has been that player of late.

Adin Hill is out with an undisclosed injury, and Thompson has taken control of the net.

The Knights beat first-place Vancouver 6-3 on Tuesday night before 18,366 at T-Mobile Arena.

It was Thompson’s sixth consecutive win.

Perhaps not as overly sharp as he has been, but the opponent had something to do with that. The Canucks lead the Pacific Division for a reason. But it was enough. Thompson — who stopped 27 of 30 shots — was enough again.

“Logan is feeling good about his game, and when your goaltender is on his game, it makes everyone else better,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said.

He was the NHL’s hottest goalie coming in Tuesday, having won five straight and been named the league’s second star of the week after allowing just three goals in three games. Posted a .971 save percentage over them.

Was just nails during a road trip that all but wrapped up a postseason berth. Was just what the team needed against the likes of St. Louis and Winnipeg and Minnesota.

But this is what has usually happened throughout the organization’s history. One goalie goes down, and another steps forward to produce positive results.

‘Next man up’

“It has been happening as long as I’ve been here,” center Nicolas Roy said. “It’s that ‘next man up’ mentality. Logan has been unreal (lately). We really needed those wins on the road trip for the playoff push. He was our best player.”

Said defenseman Brayden McNabb: “Logan has been awesome, coming up with big saves at the right time. He found his game at the right time, when we really needed him. We’re going to need him going forward. It’s that time of year when good players need to step up.”

Maybe he just needed a reset after the Buffalo debacle on March 3, when Thompson allowed five unanswered goals and seven in total. He had just one win in his previous six starts.

Maybe he just needed time to sit and watch and get his game right.

Because when Hill went down, Thompson wasn’t anything like the goalie we saw before. Best-in-the-league good the past few weeks.

“It’s just the way a season goes,” he said. “Sometimes, there are ups and downs. With individual performances, you’re not going to be perfect all year. I don’t feel any differently now than I felt three months ago. I feel the exact same.”

It’s true the Knights have been better in front of him. There’s always going to be breakdowns. But they have occurred less and less. And his has been a sharper level of rebound control. He seems more confident.

Hughes gets two

Vancouver solved him three times.

It was at 9:20 of the first period when Thompson was unable to corral a loose puck in front and Nils Hoglander scored.

Then, with a tick left on a Canucks second-period power play at 6:13, Quinn Hughes beat Thompson clean from the point.

Hughes would strike again at just 1:41 of the third, again from the point, again with a laser through traffic that beat Thompson.

And that was it. And that was that.

“Just happy I’m able to put the jersey on and play every night right now,” Thompson said this week. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity and am just going to try and run with it as long as I can.”

They need him to. McNabb is correct. It’s that time of year. Time for good players to step up.

Thompson has been one of late for the Knights. Nails, mostly.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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