Updated April 14, 2022 - 9:38 pm
The Golden Knights appeared to send a message Thursday night in Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome.
They might have struggled for parts of the season. There’s still a chance they miss the playoffs. But watch out if they get in.
The Knights reminded everyone why they were a preseason Stanley Cup favorite by routing the first-place Calgary Flames 6-1 to improve to 7-1-1 in their past nine games. They got goals from six skaters, a strong performance in net by Calgary native Logan Thompson and some help to bolster their postseason hopes.
“I thought this was our best game of the season,” left wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “We were good everywhere.”
Coach Pete DeBoer didn’t sit idly by after the Knights’ 5-4 overtime loss in Vancouver on Tuesday. He said before Thursday’s game he thought his team needed five or six points from their current three-game road trip, which concludes Saturday in Edmonton. That meant two straight wins.
He made several changes to try to make that happen against a Flames’ side that had won five straight. Three of the Knights’ forward lines — all but left wing Max Pacioretty, center Chandler Stephenson and right wing Mark Stone — were mixed up. Thompson, who hadn’t played since April 1, got the start.
The moves worked. The Knights scored six straight goals after left wing Dillon Dube gave Calgary a 1-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first period.
Center Jack Eichel tied the score 2:52 later. The Knights then tied a season high with four goals in the second period — from left wing Evgenii Dadonov, right wing Michael Amadio, Marchessault and center Nicolas Roy to go ahead 5-1.
Marchessault’s goal came 40 seconds after Amadio’s and chased goaltender Jacob Markstrom with 10:56 left in the second. Markstrom, who allowed four goals on 17 shots, was pulled for the second straight start.
Center William Karlsson added another goal against goaltender Dan Vladar with 1:41 to play. Karlsson also had two assists for his first three-point game of the season.
The Knights did not share the Flames’ issues in net. Thompson made 35 saves for his fifth straight win. The 25-year-old validated DeBoer’s decision to go with him over veteran goaltender Robin Lehner, who is 2-1-1 with an .888 save percentage since returning from a lower-body injury.
“This is huge,” Thompson said to AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain about playing in his hometown. “I’m going to remember this forever.”
Thompson might have earned more playing time with his performance. His eighth win as a rookie moved the Knights one point behind Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. They’re two points behind Nashville and Dallas in the wild-card chase with one more game played after losses by both teams Thursday.
“I really liked our game,” DeBoer said. “We had to win that game. They’re in a position where they don’t have to win this time of year right now.”
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1. New top line clicks
One of DeBoer’s changes was creating a new first line with Eichel, Marchessault and left wing Mattias Janmark. It probably worked better than he envisioned.
Janmark proved adept at retrieving pucks for his talented linemates, and the three built chemistry quickly. Marchessault recorded a goal — his 29th of the season — and two assists to extend his point streak to three games. Janmark got two assists for his third multipoint game. Eichel’s goal was his fifth in his six-game point streak.
Their effort probably earned them another game together.
2. Power play ends skid
The Knights’ power play appeared cursed early in the second period.
Despite showing signs of life, it couldn’t snap its lengthy skid after left wing Milan Lucic was called for holding 2:45 into the second period. Dadonov scored a second after the power play to extend the drought to 0-for-20.
The Knights didn’t get discouraged. Roy scored on a tip on their next opportunity for the team’s first power-play goal in eight games.
“Just the puck movement,” Marchessault said. “We were able to just keep it simple and bring it to the net.”
3. Kolesar agitates
Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar played only five seconds on the power play but played a major role in the unit’s success.
Kolesar got under the Flames’ skin after a check to the head of defenseman Chris Tanev with 4:30 left in the first period. It was called a major penalty but reduced to a minor after review.
The Flames didn’t forget the hit. Lucic’s penalty came when he tried to engage Kolesar without success. Right wing Andrew Mangiapane was sent to the box for clipping Kolesar with 3:45 left in the second, resulting in Roy’s goal.