For the second time in a week, the Vegas Golden Knights dealt with the unknown of a false-positive COVID-19 test to one of their star players.
And for the second time, that player came through when needed.
Golden Knights center William Karlsson scored the go-ahead goal at 15:15 of the second period, pushing Vegas to a 4-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
Karlsson was placed in the league’s COVID related absences list 35 minutes after it made its daily appearance. Vegas initially had ‘TBA’ when the list was released at 2 p.m. Karlsson arrived in Los Angeles with the team, isolated in his hotel room.
But Vegas’ top center did take part in warmups about a half-hour before puck drop. The Golden Knights announced Karlsson’s test from Friday morning was a false-positive.
The very quick reintegration of Karlsson was only the first of much-needed additions to the Vegas lineup on Friday. The Golden Knights welcomed back Alex Tuch (one game) and Chandler Stephenson (two games) from undisclosed injuries, and saw Robin Lehner (concussion) make his first start since Feb. 7.
“Those are important pieces for us,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Being without those guys tests your depth. We passed that test. It obviously changes our team when you add those guys back in.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was placed in protocol March 11, did not take part in morning skate the next day, and was removed from COVID protocol two hours before facing the St. Louis Blues. Fleury ended up starting in a 5-4 overtime victory against the Blues.
“There’s nothing you can do about false-positives. It does throw your whole day in disarray,” DeBoer said. “I think two in one week, it’s been quite a thing to deal with, and hopefully we don’t deal with this again.”
On Friday, Karlsson made the game’s biggest play from the forward group. It ended up being a historic play, too.
The Kings tied it 2-2 at 6:18 of the second off a deflection from Trevor Moore. Despite that goal, the Kings never found the extra gear to take over the game. Case in point; the Golden Knights outshot the Kings 16-5 in the second period, a far cry from the 12 they allowed from Los Angeles in the first 20 minutes.
DeBoer has preached about getting to the crease and sparking the offense from the blue paint. This was as close to an example as he’ll get.
Karlsson wins the draw from the left circle and immediately moves toward Jonathan Quick. It’s initially just a simple play to throw the puck at the net by Jonathan Marchessault.
The puck hits Karlsson’s stick in front and he scores for the first time in eight games.
More importantly, Karlsson’s goal was his 200th point as a member of the Golden Knights. The one who fed him from the point, Marchessault reached the 200-point mark with Vegas on March 13.
It goes without saying how good this line, along with Reilly Smith, has been since the beginning. The Misfit Line, as they’ve been unofficially dubbed this season, has combined for 580 points in the four seasons they’ve played together.
The goals have dipped for Karlsson since the 43-goal campaign in the inaugural season, however he’s still an important player for Vegas.
That goal was Karlsson’s seventh of the season, and he became the sixth different Vegas player to hit 20 points this season. While he may not be that dangerous scorer, he’s shown a knack for making big plays at big times.
Friday was no exception.