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Golden Knights rally for OT win, end homestand on high note

Shea Theodore unleashed a homestand’s worth of frustration into one leaping body check to the glass.

The Golden Knights were on the precipice of disaster more than 40 minutes earlier Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. Right wing Mike Hoffman scored to give the Montreal Canadiens, who have the fewest points in the NHL, a 3-2 lead with 13:45 to play.

It appeared as if an ugly ending was in the making to an already 2-3-2 homestand. But the Knights, down captain Mark Stone and defenseman Zach Whitecloud, pushed back.

Left wing Jonathan Marchessault tied the game with a power-play goal with 8:21 left in the third. Theodore then executed a backhand-forehand move in overtime with defenseman Ben Chiarot in his face, beat goaltender Sam Montembeault and launched himself into the corner of the offensive zone in celebration.

Crisis averted. The Knights snapped an 0-2-1 skid with a 4-3 overtime victory to close their season-long, eight-game homestand.

“We played well and definitely had a lot of chances, but we had to tighten up defensively,” said Theodore, who got his 200th NHL point on the goal. “It was definitely a big goal to finish the homestand on a note like that and head to the road trip with some positivity.”

The Knights played a strong game without Stone (COVID-19 protocol) and Whitecloud (upper-body injury). They controlled the puck, created dangerous chances and finished with a season-high 53 shots on goal.

They’ve had more in a game only once in their history.

It still didn’t look as if it would be enough to win after Hoffman’s goal in the third. Centers Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson scored to give the Knights leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first and second periods. The Canadiens responded each time.

Goaltender Robin Lehner continued his tough stretch by giving up three goals on 27 shots. He made five straight starts to finish the homestand and went 2-2-1 with an .893 save percentage.

The Knights picked him up after Hoffman scored and avoided their second four-game losing streak of the season. The Canadiens fell to 2-10-4 in their past 16 games.

“They got a couple timely goals, but we stuck with it,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I liked the fact we didn’t panic, we stuck with it and found a way, and a couple of our big guys made big plays down the stretch.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Power play stays hot

The Knights lost to the Canadiens in the NHL semifinals in the 2021 postseason in part because they went 0-for-15 on the power play.

They had much less trouble breaking down Montreal’s penalty kill Thursday.

Karlsson scored off a give-and-go with Marchessault with 9:14 left in the second period for his first power-play point of the season. Marchessault then got his own power-play goal in the third.

Karlsson and Marchessault credited linemate Reilly Smith for coming up with the game-tying play. Karlsson won a faceoff back to Theodore, who passed the puck back to Karlsson along the left wall. Marchessault crept down from the right point to the right circle, and Karlsson hit him on the tape for a wide-open wrist shot.

“(Smith) kind of drew that up and said (Marchessault) was going to be open on that side,” Karlsson said. “He had a lot of time and put it in.”

The Knights have six power-play goals in their past five games. The unit that struggled so much in the playoffs ranks 12th in the NHL at 21.9 percent.

2. Mr. 300

Stephenson celebrated playing in his 300th NHL game by scoring his 12th goal of the season.

Right wing Evgenii Dadonov attempted a centering pass from the corner of the offensive zone, and Montembeault kicked the puck to the slot. Stephenson was there waiting and pounced.

He moved into a tie with left wing Max Pacioretty for the second-most goals on the team and extended his point streak to three games. He also did so wearing an “A” on his chest for alternate captain with Stone out of the lineup.

3. Karlsson’s game

Karlsson’s goal and assist gave him his third two-point game of the season.

The 29-year-old is on pace for his worst offensive season with the Knights with six goals and seven assists in 26 games.

DeBoer is hopeful Thursday’s game will help jump-start the center’s production.

“Willy has always been a bit of a streaky scorer,” DeBoer said. “When he’s feeling it, it usually comes in bunches. His effort is consistent every single day. He shows up and gives you everything he’s got.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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