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Knights ‘Money’ player keeps hitting milestones with playoffs in sight

Jonathan Marchessault has always been fueled by the same drive.

Sure, he has a light-hearted side. The Golden Knights right wing chirps his teammates at practice. He cracks jokes in the locker room. He speaks his mind in good times and bad.

But beneath that is the need to continuously prove himself. It’s why Marchessault puts his head down every day and goes to work.

It’s why the 33-year-old is in his 11th NHL season. It’s why he was the second undrafted player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP last year.

It’s also why Marchessault picked up another significant achievement Saturday. He became the second player in Knights history to score 40 goals in a season.

“The past year, I think most of the things my team needs right now is me scoring goals,” Marchessault said. “I just embrace my role and help my team win a hockey game.”

Marchessault has never cared about personal milestones. He’s just done what he feels is necessary to stick around after fighting for years for an NHL opportunity.

He’s now played 631 games in the league, 507 of which have come with the Knights. He’s proven his worth time and time again. Marchessault is the Knights’ all-time leader in goals (191), assists (223) and points (414).

Even his milestone moment Saturday came at an important time for the team. He scored an empty-net goal in overtime that gave the Knights a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild.

“I’m not surprised. I would’ve guessed he would’ve had another good year,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I anticipated a good year and he’s had a great year.”

Marchessault’s goal was an impressive finish to an almost perfect road trip for the Knights. He’s been the constant in another year where injuries have ravaged the team. That’s no surprise given his track record. Marchessault has missed just 23 games his seven seasons with the Knights. He hasn’t missed one this year as the team attempts to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

“I have the fever of winning right now,” Marchessault said.

“Money” Marchessault

Marchessault doesn’t find himself in short-handed or 5-on-6 situations often.

He’s played just 9:43 of ice time in those spots in his career. That’s where he found himself before his 40th goal, however. The Wild pulled goaltender Filip Gustavsson in overtime to create a 4-on-3 with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread.

Marchessault, who was on the ice when Gustavsson left the net, gathered the puck after a kick save by goaltender Logan Thompson and fired from 126 feet away to end the game.

“Lo and behold, it lands on Jonathan ‘Money’ Marchessault’s stick and he makes no mistake,” Cassidy said. “Now he’s going to be asking to be on the penalty kill every day and maybe get Selke (Trophy) votes.”

Marchessault’s lobbying isn’t likely to work. But there’s no doubt he’ll continue to rise to the occasion for the Knights.

His goal against the Wild was his second overtime winner in less than a week. He also sealed the Knights’ 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues on March 25.

Marchessault’s nine overtime goals are a team record.

“It’s one of those things that I’ve worked all my life to be able to be in that situation,” Marchessault said. “It’s on me to make sure that when I’m in that situation, I’ve got to capitalize because they don’t come that often.”

Marchessault’s confidence has continued to build since last year’s playoff run.

He started out slow. He didn’t score a goal in the Knights’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets or in their first two second-round games against he Edmonton Oilers. He finished with 13. He scored eight goals the Knights’ final 10 playoff games, including four in the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers.

Marchessault has carried that hot streak over to this season. His 16.3 shooting percentage is a career high. He has 24 goals in the Knights’ last 32 games alone and 41 overall.

“He’s always in the right spot. When he gets his chances, he’s going to score,” center William Karlsson said. “The guy’s hot. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him hotter.”

Closing in on Karlsson

The next milestone Marchessault has in sight? The Knights record for goals in a season.

He had a front-row seat as Karlsson set it by scoring 43 times the franchise’s inaugural campaign in 2017-18. Marchessault was on Karlsson’s line helping out as the Knights’ shocked the NHL by reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Marchessault is now three goals away from passing his teammate after scoring in Tuesday’s 6-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. Karlsson is hearing the footsteps.

“I’m sure he’s thinking about it with the pace he’s on,” Karlsson said. “It’s in trouble.”

Marchessault, for his part, said he’s not thinking about it. He was happy to help Karlsson achieve the record before and he’s not set on surpassing it now.

There’s just no doubt it’s within reach with seven games remaining in the regular season.

“It was different times. I was definitely happy to be part of (Karlsson’s record),” Marchessault said. “This year’s a new year and tomorrow, we’ll see.”

“Hard work to get here”

One of Marchessault’s idols is Martin St. Louis.

The former Hart Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning – now the coach of the Montreal Canadiens – took a similar path to the NHL.

St. Louis, like Marchessault, was an undrafted, undersized player known as a gifted goal scorer. The two now sit side-by-side in the record books. They are two of four undrafted players who have scored 40 goals in a season the last 20 years, along with Jason Blake and Artemi Panarin.

“Definitely proud. It’s a lot of hard work to get here,” Marchessault said. “Kind of like what I said about being in those situations, it’s hard because you’ve got to provide the results. I think it’s something I take a lot of pride with, is bringing the results when it’s my time.”

Marchessault has more than delivered.

The Knights are 9-2-1 their last 12 games and are on a seven-game point streak. They’ll be back in the playoffs before long thanks to that run.

Marchessault, a pending unrestricted free agent, will be leading the way once they’re there. He’ll put his head down and go to work, just like he’s done so many times before.

“When you win, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Marchessault said. “Not that I didn’t want to win before, but when you taste it, it’s like a drug almost. You want more.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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