Updated March 30, 2022 - 11:38 pm
Chances are Logan Thompson will take a back seat for the remaining 13 games now that first-choice goalie Robin Lehner is active.
But if the Golden Knights end up making the playoffs, they won’t soon forget the contribution Thompson made to help them get there.
Riding their third-string goaltender again Wednesday, the Knights wore down the Seattle Kraken for a 3-0 victory in their first trip to Climate Pledge Arena.
“This is really exciting hockey, and we’re in must-win games,” Thompson said. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity. It’s a lot of fun for me, and I’m soaking it all in. I just want to keep building and keep getting two points and helping the team as much as I can.”
Lehner (lower body) was removed from injured reserve before the game and served as the backup. He’s expected to carry the load in the final month as the Knights push for a playoff berth.
But Thompson made his seventh consecutive start and came up with 22 stops against the Kraken for his first career shutout. He was sharp early with three key saves before the Knights found their footing in the first period.
Seattle’s Jordan Eberle scored with 2:22 to play, but the Knights successfully challenged for offside to preserve the shutout.
Thompson improved to 6-4-0 as a starter and has won five of his past seven decisions.
“Injuries have put him front and center, and that’s how NHL careers are made,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “You either sink or swim in those moments, and he’s really risen to the occasion.
“We know how good Robin can be. What it does is it takes some pressure off us having to rush Robin back, which is something we don’t want to do.”
The Knights (37-28-4, 78 points) used a conservative game plan against the last-place Kraken to snap a seven-game road losing skid and move into the final wild-card spot by points. It was their third straight win.
The teams meet again Friday in Seattle.
Defenseman Shea Theodore scored on a breakaway in the second period, and forward Michael Amadio added a goal in the third period when he swept a rebound past Seattle goalie Chris Driedger while falling to the ice.
Jonathan Marchessault had an empty-net goal to go with an assist for his third straight multipoint game and leads the Knights with 55 points.
”I liked our effort,” DeBoer said. “I thought (Thompson) made some big saves in the first and allowed us to recognize this was going to be a hard game. And then in the second and third, I really liked our game.”
Here’s what stood out from the game:
1. Dazed and confused
Forward Keegan Kolesar was in the middle of the action during an otherwise quiet first period and came away worse for the wear.
Almost midway through, Kolesar fought 6-foot-7-inch defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and absorbed several hard right hands at the end of the bout after he landed a couple of shots early.
With about 2:25 remaining, Kolesar lined up Kraken forward Riley Sheahan (6-2, 216) along the boards but was second-best in the collision.
Kolesar’s head snapped back, and he appeared to be disoriented for several seconds before he headed off the ice and went straight to the dressing room. There was no update on his status after the game.
The Knights started with an 11-forward, seven-defenseman lineup and were forced to use Dylan Coghlan at forward in the final two periods without Kolesar.
“Everyone just kind of realizes that they need to step up,” Amadio said. “We got a lot of guys with opportunity here. We just need everyone to keep playing their role and do their job out there.”
2. Happy homecoming
Theodore’s parents drove from the Vancouver, British Columbia, area to attend the game and saw his first goal since Jan. 20.
Jonas Rondbjerg intercepted a pass in his own zone and found Theodore behind the defense after he exited the penalty box.
Theodore, who played junior hockey in Seattle, used his backhand move for his ninth goal and first in 28 games.
“The first goal is a difference-maker for our group,” DeBoer said. “We went through a stretch where we didn’t get it at all and were playing from behind every night. That’s tough for our group because we’re not scoring easily. That was a big goal for us.”
3. Another defenseman returns
Brayden McNabb was activated from injured reserve and made his first appearance after being listed as a game-time decision.
The Knights need his physical presence and experience for the final month.
McNabb hasn’t played since March 3, missing the past 13 games with an undisclosed injury. He was a full participant at practice Tuesday after skating in a noncontact jersey Monday.
Against Seattle, McNabb had four hits and blocked three shots in 19:17 of ice time.
“Getting (McNabb and Alec Martinez) back is huge for us,” Thompson said. “They were awesome tonight, and a lot of credit goes to them. They’ve been out for a while, and they played great.”