Tight schedule leaves Golden Knights little time to celebrate

Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) is congratulated by teammate Nick Holden (22) after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 30, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — There wasn’t much of a celebration for the Golden Knights after they clinched a playoff spot Friday night when the Arizona Coyotes lost at Colorado.

The schedule didn’t allow it.

After the Knights lost their fourth straight game, 3-2 to Minnesota at T-Mobile Arena, they boarded a plane for Saturday night’s game against San Jose.

“It’s a quick turnaround here with the back-to-back,” defenseman Colin Miller said. “We just got up here and tried to get some rest and get ready for the game.”

Even if the Knights had an opportunity to celebrate, the losing streak might have dampened their enthusiasm about returning to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Still, coach Gerard Gallant wants to make sure his team appreciates the accomplishment.

“I want us to play well and try to keep playing our game and play hard, but we clinched a spot last night, and that’s awesome,” Gallant said before Saturday’s game. “It’s a great feeling. A lot of teams aren’t going to make the playoffs, and we’re one of them that is going to make it and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup again.”

Forward Ryan Reaves will be headed to the postseason for the eighth straight season.

“It never gets old,” he said. “That’s what we live for. I think we would have rather done it ourselves, but obviously we’re happy we’re there. Now we have to start putting some good hockey on the ice or it will be short-lived.”

Hello, old friend

Several Knights players visited the Wild locker room after Friday’s game to visit with former teammate Brad Hunt, who was traded to Minnesota in January.

Hunt has seen his playing time increase since the trade. And his wife, Katie, gave birth to their first son, Colby, on Wednesday.

Reaves was pleased to see his old friend.

“It’s always good seeing that little smiling face,” he said.

Hunt received several baby presents from the Knights, but Reaves brought a more adult gift.

“I brought a couple beers for him,” Reaves said of his 7Five Brewing Company Training Day Golden Ale, which was released in cans last week. “Had to let him try the product out.”

Take a breather

Defenseman Nick Holden returned to the lineup Saturday, replacing Brayden McNabb and pairing with Shea Theodore.

It was the first game McNabb has missed this season. William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault are the only Knights to play in every game.

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