The easy thing for the Golden Knights to do in the third period Sunday would have been to stay out of the penalty box. That and don’t put the puck in the wrong net.
But nothing has gone according to plan for the Knights this season, so why should it suddenly start now?
Despite allowing an own goal to the host Vancouver Canucks midway through the third period, the Knights responded for a 3-2 overtime victory at Rogers Arena to make a winner of goalie Robin Lehner in his return to the crease.
Defenseman Shea Theodore scored 2:05 into overtime, as the Knights swept their three-game road trip through the Pacific Northwest.
“We need every win we can get. Guys are rallying, they’re digging deep,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’re asking for different contributions from all kinds of different people, and guys are stepping up and giving us that.”
The Knights (39-28-4, 82 points) matched their longest streak of the season with their fifth straight win and gained ground in the wild-card race on Nashville (82 points) and Dallas (81 points) with 11 games remaining.
This was the first of three meetings in 10 days between the teams, and the Knights improved to 10-0-2 all time against Vancouver. They complete the home-and-home series Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.
Lehner made his first start since March 8 after returning from a lower-body injury and earned the victory with 26 saves. He’s won all four of his starts this season after coming back from an injury.
“He looked really sharp,” DeBoer said. “Logan Thompson has come in and done a great job, but we needed Robin back. It’s been a long time, and it was nice to see him come with an effort like that.”
The Knights were unable to hold a 2-0 lead entering the third, as Vancouver forward J.T. Miller scored his 29th goal at 1:42 of the period, and Bo Horvat was credited with the tying goal on a power play at 9:42.
Knights center William Karlsson won the defensive-zone faceoff against Horvat, and defenseman Alec Martinez tried to control the puck but accidentally deflected it past Lehner into his own net.
“I’ve never seen a goal like that before, where you don’t even know who to give the goal to,” forward Chandler Stephenson said. “Just a bad bounce.”
The Canucks had a chance to steal the two points at the buzzer, but defenseman Tyler Myers fired over the net from the slot.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Jonathan Marchessault scored in the first period.
Here’s what stood out from the game:
1. Home sweet home
Theodore, who hails from nearby Aldergrove, British Columbia, doesn’t get the opportunity to score in overtime if not for his defensive effort to bother Horvat on a breakaway off the opening faceoff.
The goal was Theodore’s 11th, two shy of his career high, and came after he made a skilled play to settle a pass from Marchessault on an odd-man rush.
Theodore has scored in three straight games — all game winners — and has a four-game point streak.
“Confidence is huge in this league,” Theodore said. “I feel like sometimes everything you put on the net is going in. Then there’s stretches where nothing’s happening whatsoever. It’s good to be in this stretch, and hopefully we all can continue it.”
2. Marching on
The past two goals scored by Marchessault were into an empty net, but he beat Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko with a wrist shot from the slot for a 2-0 advantage in the first period.
In the overtime, Marchessault fell down while receiving a breakout pass along the wall, but won a puck battle against Canucks forward Elias Pettersson and hustled to create an odd-man rush with Vancouver caught up ice. He then fed Theodore for the winner.
Marchessault has a team-leading 28 goals, one more than his career-best total with the Knights set in 2017-18, and extended his point streak to five games. He has 10 points during that run, including four multipoint outings.
“Marchy has been our offensive leader almost all season and makes a great play on the other one there in overtime,” DeBoer said. “He’s showing up every night for us with obviously some critical offensive players sitting on the sidelines.”
3. Offense from defense
Along with Theodore’s winner, Pietrangelo opened the scoring with a pinpoint shot from the right circle off a set faceoff play. The Knights now have a goal from a defenseman in five straight games.
Pietrangelo logged heavy minutes, but has benefited from the return of Martinez and Brayden McNabb on the blue line. That’s allowed him to focus more offensively.
Pietrangelo has a point in four of the past five games with three goals and two assists.