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Key forward expected to return if Golden Knights make playoffs

Updated April 18, 2022 - 9:56 pm

Golden Knights vs. Devils

Devils win 3-2

RJ’s three stars

3. Devils winger Nathan Bastian — Scored his first goal since March 15 in the first period when he put a rebound into an open net. He added an assist for his fifth career two-point game.

2. Devils winger Andreas Johnsson — He deposited the go-ahead goal in the third period after a scramble near the Knights’ net. New Jersey’s fourth line produced two of its three goals.

1. Devils goaltender Andrew Hammond — The “Hamburglar” last won March 3 and entered with a .874 save percentage. But he might have stolen the Knights playoff chances, as he finished with 42 stops.

Key play

Johnsson’s go-ahead goal.

Robin Lehner kept the Knights close with a handful of key stops in the first two periods.

But he was at fault on the goal 3:14 into the third period that put the Devils back in the lead.

Lehner fumbled a long shot by defenseman Kevin Bahl when he tried to catch it with his glove and left a rebound at the top of the crease. The Devils freed the puck, and it eventually went to Johnsson, who was stationed at the side of the net and roofed the shot for his 13th goal.

That sapped the energy from an announced crowd of 18,077 that had life after Keegan Kolesar’s tying goal in the second period.

Key stat

23 — Missed shots by the Golden Knights, who unofficially had four breakaways and another partial break with nothing to show for it.

Smith on horizon

If the Knights reach the playoffs, they should get a key forward back.

Winger Reilly Smith is expected to be available during the postseason, coach Pete DeBoer said. Smith hasn’t played since March 8 at Philadelphia, missing the past 19 games with an undisclosed injury.

It’s not clear when Smith could return, and he is not practicing with the team. He remains on long-term injured reserve.

DeBoer hinted Smith could team with center William Karlsson to match against other team’s top forwards in a shut-down role on the third line when he is healthy.

“If those guys are playing on your third line, that’s a line that can play against everybody’s top players and also kill penalties and also be real dangerous offensively,” DeBoer said. “That’s the kind of depth you’re looking for. We haven’t had that luxury yet to get everybody in.”

Smith is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

New look in net

Goalie Logan Thompson stepped on the ice for Monday’s morning skate with a new equipment setup.

The gear was noticeable in that it matched the Golden Knights’ colors, with steel gray and gold trimmed in red on the leg pads, glove and blocker, rather than the Silver Knights. Thompson had been wearing silver pads after bouncing between the Knights and their American Hockey League affiliate.

Thompson signed a three-year, $2.3 million contract extension in January and won seven of his past 10 decisions with a 2.20 goals-against average and .933 save percentage to keep the Knights in the playoff chase.

Knights’ remaining games

Vs. Washington, 7 p.m. Wednesday

Vs. San Jose, 7 p.m. Sunday

At Dallas, 5:30 p.m. April 26

At Chicago, 5:30 p.m. April 27

At St. Louis, 5 p.m. April 29

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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