Las Vegas Sun

January 29, 2022

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William Karlsson hits goal milestone in Golden Knights’ loss to Nashville

Vegas Golden Knights vs Nashville Predators

Wade Vandervort

The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) scores past Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the third period of an NHL Hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

Knights Defeated by Nashville Predators, 3-2

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) gets hit during a fight with the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period of an NHL Hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. Launch slideshow »

Most nights when a hockey team outshoots the opposition by 17 attempts, it’s going to come out with a win.

The Golden Knights fired 43 shots at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but only two found the net in a 3-2 loss at T-Mobile Arena.

That’s because the Golden Knights attempted low-percentage shots, settling for chances from deep and not getting to the scoring areas.

“It’s tough sometimes when you play teams like this that are really solid defensively. They make it hard to come into the net,” Vegas forward William Karlsson said. “You’ve just got to battle through it, and that was the result of the two goals we had tonight.”

Nashville’s Juuse Saros is a terrific goalie and has always had success against the Golden Knights. Tonight’s victory improved him to 4-2-1 all-time against Vegas with a .935 save percentage.

He made 41 saves, but until the third period wasn’t challenged as much as a goalie of his caliber needs to be, particularly at 5-on-5. The Golden Knights didn’t generate a high-danger scoring chance in the first period (according to the website Natural Stat Trick) and didn’t challenge Saros much in the second either, outside of a flurry on the power play.

The Golden Knights finally got to Saros in the third period, but by that time, they were already down 3-0. Karlsson crashed the net and redirected a Brayden McNabb shot off his foot into the net from six feet out, then Mattias Janmark provided a screen to allow Shea Theodore’s long-range ripper to beat Saros late in the third.

Vegas did what it wanted to do in those instances, but other than that, it was a story of controlling shot quantity but the quality not being good enough.

“They made it tough for us to get to the net tonight, and we didn’t commit to go to those tough areas for long enough,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “They buckled down and really out-competed us for long stretches in the early part of that game, really pushed us to the outside of the rink, won a lot of battles, and we didn’t respond early enough or for long enough.”

There were some positives from the game, including the milestone of Karlsson’s goal. It was his 100th with the franchise, joining linemate and original Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault as the only players to break the century mark in Vegas.

It was clear that sitting on 99 goals, as he’d been since Dec. 16, was weighing on him, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he was asked about it after the game.

“I have wanted this for awhile now, this 100th goal. I’ve surely had the chances, so it feels good to get a greasy one just to get it over with,” Karlsson said. “But my time here as a Golden Knight has been fantastic and this has become a home, so it means a lot to score 100 goals for this franchise.”

The game also featured the starting debut of goalie Logan Thompson.

It wasn’t his first appearance — he notched 8:15 of relief work last season and made two saves — but tonight was special as he led the Golden Knights onto the ice for the first time and received the traditional rookie “hot lap” during warmups.

Thompson performed as well as could be asked of him. He gave up three goals, all of which far more experienced goalies would have also struggled to save, and made some big-time stops, including getting his skate blade on a Filip Forsberg one-timer in the second period. He finished with 23 saves.

Thompson’s dad made it to town to see the culmination of an improbable journey. Just four years ago, Logan Thompson was playing college hockey in Canada, a system not known for producing NHL talent. He was in the ECHL two years ago and was signed as a minor-league free agent before last season. All he did was post a .945 save percentage with AHL Henderson in becoming the league’s goaltender of the year.

Certainly he would have liked his first start to be a win, but he’ll be forgiven for enjoying Tuesday night even in a loss.

“It’s a dream come true for me. It’s been a long road,” Thompson said. “This is something that you dream of for your entire life, and I was able to do it tonight. Tried to stay calm and let the nerves go and take it like a regular game day, but obviously this one sticks out from the rest, and it’s going to stick with me forever.”