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May 21, 2019

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Top-line magic lifts Golden Knights over Detroit 4-3


Paul Sancya / AP

Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) shoots as Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen (51) defends in the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Detroit.

Updated Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 | 1:18 p.m.

The Golden Knights were as fiery in the second period as they were lifeless in the first.

They scored three goals in the middle frame, two by Jonathan Marchessault, and closed the road trip with a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.

William Karlsson had a goal for Vegas, as did Brayden McNabb.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

Wild Bill up to his old tricks

Before Karlsson had an assist against the Lightning on Tuesday, he had two points in his previous 13 games, with both of them coming Jan. 19 against the Penguins.

He picked up an assist on Marchessault’s first goal Thursday, then played pitch-and-catch with Paul Stastny on a 2-on-1 to score his 17th of the season after a long shift penalty killing.

He benefitted from increased playing time with his old running mate. Karlsson and Marchessault welcomed Reilly Smith back from injured reserve with his spot back on the top line, only to see Valentin Zykov take Smith’s spot by the end of the first game. They were reunited in the second period Thursday and were tremendous.

Marchessault scored his second of the game off the rebound of a Smith shot, and Smith drilled the crossbar on a feed from Karlsson. Don’t be surprised to see Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith back together when the Golden Knights return home Saturday.

“I think we kind of fed off those guys,” forward Paul Stastny told AT&T SportsNet. “Sometimes when you’re struggling a little bit you kind of break the line apart, but once you put it back together, it seems like they found that instant chemistry they had all season and last season.”

No. 29 with win No. 29

No goalies have more wins than Marc-Andre Fleury this season, and now his win total matches his jersey number.

Fleury allowed a goal in the first, when he thought he had the puck frozen but Gustav Nyquist saw it trickle through his legs and swatted it home. After that, Fleury was lights-out. He denied a second-period redirect attempt from Michael Rasmussen on the power play with a sprawling pad save, and gloved down a Danny DeKeyser slapper moments later.

Detroit added a goal with an extra attacker with 1.5 seconds left in the game.

Fleury finished with 36 saves on 39 shots.

Salvaging the road trip

If the Golden Knights were told before the road trip they would go 2-2, they probably would have taken it. East Coast, back-to-back, Lightning on the schedule — winning half of those wouldn’t be bad.

For the first two-and-a-half games, it went as poorly as possible. Vegas was out-skated by Carolina, couldn’t score against Florida and found itself down 2-0 against Tampa Bay. The Golden Knights rallied to stun the Lightning in a shootout, and suddenly a good trip was within reach.

They were the better team against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and took care of business against Detroit on Wednesday. No one would have thought they’d take two of four after the way it started, but any .500 road trip is a good road trip.

“You can get into your head a little bit when you start to lose a couple games and things start getting mixed up,” Pacioretty said to AT&T SportsNet. “We had certain guys step up in Tampa and a little bit different guys stepped up tonight.”

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