Shea Theodore stick-flip to teammate tests NHL rulebook

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) takes a puck to the chest as Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Nosek (92) attempts to score during the third period of their game on Monday, April 1, 2019. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Shea Theodore had one of the more unique assists of the Golden Knights season to Tomas Nosek on a play that won’t show up in any box score.

Nosek had his stick jarred free when he reached to block a shot in the third period and it went bounding toward Theodore, who instinctively flipped it back to Nosek for a one-handed grab in stride on a play that drew a big reaction from the T-Mobile Arena crowd during a 3-1 win over Edmonton on Monday night.

There may be some question about the legality of the play, however.

“I didn’t even notice it until the crowd (reacted),” coach Gerard Gallant said after an optional team practice Tuesday. “As long as it’s not a penalty, I was happy.”

Section 10.3 of the NHL rule book forbids players from retrieving a lost or broken stick for a teammate.

“A player who has lost or broken his stick may receive a replacement stick by having one handed to him from his own players’ bench; by having one handed to him by a teammate on the ice; or, by picking up his own unbroken stick or that of a teammate’s from the ice,” the rule states. “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice, or if he picks up and plays with an opponent’s stick. A player may not participate in the play using a goalkeeper’s stick. A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.”

Theodore’s maneuver leaves some gray area because the stick was bouncing in his direction and he just redirected it toward Nosek to be snagged out of midair.

“I didn’t even know at the time if he caught it,” Theodore said with a laugh. “I had to ask him on the bench.

“Usually if you can catch it before it’s laying flat on the ice, you can kind of pop it up and I guess he made a good grab on it.”

Theodore said Tuesday he hadn’t watched a clip yet, though the highlight was circulating on social media.

Gallant admitted he did watch it after the game.

He’s back … almost

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been back on the ice the last two days at City National Arena for the first time since beating Dallas 2-1 on March 15.

The team has not announced whether he will return to action Thursday in the Knights’ final regular-season home game against the Arizona Coyotes. But goaltender Maxime Lagace was sent back to their American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago on Tuesday, a sign that Fleury is close to a return.

While he still hasn’t played in a game or participated in a full practice with what has been called a “lower-body injury,” Fleury’s presence has been noticed.

“It was good to have him out there,” Theodore said. “He always has that energy to him and you can always see his smiling grin through his mask.”

Fleury’s rest has probably come at a good time. He led the league in games played by a goaltender when he was sidelined and his wife gave birth to their third child during his absence.

He had allowed just five goals in winning six straight starts before the injury.

“He’s the backbone of our team as everyone knows, so to see him back out there and close to ready is very exciting,” defenseman Jon Merrill said.

Him too

Sharks star defenseman Erik Karlsson told reporters in Vancouver where San Jose played the Canucks on Tuesday night that he expects to be back in time for the first-round playoff series against the Knights despite playing just seven games since suffering a groin injury on Jan. 15 and none since Feb. 26.

“If the playoffs started today, the situation would be a little bit different,” Karlsson said. “I said I was going to be ready for the playoffs and that’s still the case.”

San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said he would like to get Karlsson a tune-up game, but won’t force the issue.

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