What a difference a game makes.
The Golden Knights’ power play earned plenty of superlatives in coach Peter DeBoer’s first nine games, almost none of them positive. Then, somehow, it was brilliant Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.
The Knights scored four power-play goals for only the second time in franchise history. They needed every one of them too, because they allowed them to erase three different one-goal deficits in a 6-5 overtime victory at T-Mobile Arena.
“We didn’t like our execution (at Minnesota) and I think we didn’t have enough shots and bodies to the net kind of mindset,” said DeBoer, referring to Tuesday’s 0-for-4 performance. “I thought we did a great job tonight by putting more of an emphasis on those two areas. It’s amazing when you concentrate on the details. You usually get rewarded and that was the case.”
The Knights entered Thursday 3-for-26 (11.5 percent) on the power play under DeBoer and Tuesday may have been their nadir. They had only four shots on goal with the man advantage and were criticized by their coach for not making life hard enough on Wild goaltender Alex Stalock.
Thursday, they took out their frustrations on Blues netminder Jordan Binnington.
Right wing Mark Stone wasted no time throwing the puck towards the net on the Knights’ first power play. It bounced off the skate of Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and to left wing Max Pacioretty, who scored.
Left wing Jonathan Marchessault scored the team’s second power-play goal with 1:01 left in the second period thanks to some nifty passing and Blues center Ryan O’Reilly’s broken stick. Then a third came 6:33 into the third after the Knights did exactly what DeBoer wanted them to do.
Right wing Reilly Smith made Binnington’s life difficult by providing a screen in front of the crease, helping defenseman Nate Schmidt’s shot to go through.
The Knights wrapped up their power-play redemption tour when Marchessault was hooked in overtime. The team used its 4-on-3 advantage to score another “greasy” goal that likely made its coach smile.
Marchessault had his stick down on the ice to catch a deflection off Binnington’s pads, and fired it back towards the net to score the game-winner. The Knights’ power play went from being a scapegoat in a disappointing loss to the engine of a thrilling victory in a matter of 48 hours.
“Sometimes there’s good days, sometimes there’s bad days,” Marchessault said. “It’s all about making the right plays. Last game, we tried to make the right plays, we just weren’t successful. As a team, we need to stick with it and make the right plays at the right times and support each other off the pressure of the PK and tonight we did that.”
Son of Sanford
Thursday was special for Blues left wing Zach Sanford despite the loss.
Sanford recorded his first career hat trick 5:13 into the second period, and his first four-goal game with 8:15 left in the third. The performance came on the Blues’ annual fathers’ trip, an emotional time for Sanford. His father died in September 2018.
“Obviously, I’d really want to have him here,” Sanford said. “I think he was watching over tonight and maybe helping out a little bit too.”
Theodore hits milestone
Defenseman Shea Theodore set a new career-high in points Thursday…until he didn’t.
Theodore was initially credited with an assist on Pacioretty’s first goal 1:59 into the game, giving him 38 points. Then the assist was rescinded and Theodore dropped back to 37. Then he was given the assist back, and earned another one on Marchessault’s second-period goal for good measure.
Stone gives helping hand
Right wing Mark Stone had a four-assist game for the second time in his career Thursday. It was the second time this season Knight had a four-assist game, after defenseman Nate Schmidt accomplished the same feat Nov. 17 against Calgary.