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In a playoff push, Golden Knights meet Kraken again

Sportsnaut
Mar 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore (27) greets goaltender Logan Thompson (36) following a victory against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Thompson’s confidence is soaring. But his days as the Vegas Golden Knights’ starting goaltender likely are coming to a close.

Robin Lehner was removed from the team’s injured reserve list and served as the backup Wednesday as Thompson posted his first NHL shutout, a 3-0 victory at Seattle.

It’s possible Lehner, who had been out with a lower-body injury, will be in the net when the teams meet again Friday night in the Pacific Northwest.

“This is really exciting hockey, and we’re in must-win games,” Thompson said after the Golden Knights moved past Dallas and into the second and final wild-card playoff position in the Western Conference. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity.

“It’s a lot of fun for me, and I’m soaking it all in. I just want to keep building and keep getting two points and helping the team as much as I can.”

Making his 12th career appearance, the 25-year-old Thompson made 22 saves against the expansion Kraken to improve his record to 6-4-0 as a starter.

“Injuries have put (Thompson) front and center, and that’s how NHL careers are made,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “You either sink or swim in those moments, and he’s really risen to the occasion.

“We know how good Robin can be. What it does is it takes some pressure off us having to rush Robin back, which is something we don’t want to do.”

Credit DeBoer with an assist on Thompson’s shutout.

Seattle’s Jordan Eberle appeared to cut Vegas’ lead to 2-1 with 2:22 remaining, but DeBoer issued a coach’s challenge and a video review determined Eberle was offside as the puck entered the offensive zone, nullifying the goal.

“It’s getting better every day. I feel really confident in the net, and it’s something I want to keep building off of,” Thompson said. “The guys did a really good job today (in front of me), and that made it easy.”

Thompson noted the recent returns of defensemen Alec Martinez and Brayden McNabb.

Martinez came back Saturday from a 53-game absence after taking a skate to the face. McNabb returned Wednesday after being out 13 games with an upper-body injury. McNabb was a plus-2 with four hits and three blocked shots and Martinez was plus-1 with one hit and four blocks.

“Getting (McNabb and Martinez) back is huge for us,” Thompson said. “They were awesome, and a lot of credit goes to them. They’ve been out for a while, and they played great.”

The Kraken were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Wednesday’s loss.

The game was scoreless into the second period when Vegas’ Shea Theodore, who played his junior hockey in Seattle and had family in attendance, jumped out of the penalty box and was sent in on a breakaway, beating Chris Driedger with backhander.

“We can be better,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We had some guys that will look at their games and want to be a little bit better, handle situations a little bit better. We had some really good efforts, we gave ourselves a chance to be in the heart of that game midway through.

“I believe the first goal of the game was going to be a big one and a very important one. Our reaction to that goal against, if you’re looking at the next 10 minutes of the hockey game, we can be a little bit better there.”

–Field Level Media