Golden Knights beat Arizona Coyotes in Max Pacioretty’s return

Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates after scoring against the Arizona ...

Max Pacioretty allowed himself one solitary first pump with his left glove.

That was about it for the celebration of the Golden Knights left wing’s first goal since Feb. 20. Pacioretty, playing for the first time since March 11 because of a undisclosed injury, and the rest of the Knights didn’t revel in their 6-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

They knew they were supposed to beat the NHL’s worst team via points and points percentage. Especially when they had a chance to make up ground in their chase for a playoff spot.

So, thanks to points from 12 different skaters, the Knights took care of business in front of an announced crowd of 18,123.

“We haven’t been able to be the four-line team that we want to be because of the injury situation. Tonight’s the first night in a long time where we have the bodies to be able to try and play that type of game,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We want to be that team. That’s what we have to be. That’s what wins in the playoffs.”

The Knights didn’t waste much time asserting their will against the Coyotes.

Defenseman Zach Whitecloud put a shot into the top of the net from a bad angle 6:23 into the game to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. Pacioretty scored 17 seconds later to make it 2-0 after receiving a pass from center Chandler Stephenson in front of the net. They were the Knights’ fastest consecutive goals since Dec. 6, 2018 against Chicago (12 seconds).

It was Pacioretty’s 16th goal of the season, tied for the fourth-most on the team. He’s only played in 30 games thanks to his most recent injury, a broken bone in his foot and wrist surgery. Pacioretty was supposed to return March 24 against the Nashville Predators but suffered a setback that kept him out until Saturday.

“I’ve come back from a lot of injuries before, so it wasn’t the craziest situation to be in,” Pacioretty said.

The Coyotes pushed back after going down 2-0. Center Barrett Hayton scored on a one-timer off the rush with 9:43 remaining in the first period. Dadonov then restored the Knights’ two-goal lead on a breakaway 38 seconds into the second.

McNabb scored on a shot from the blue line 5:24 into the third, and Leschyshyn got his second NHL goal with 7:55 remaining.

The win was the Knights’ sixth in seven games. They moved within two points of Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific Division — and an automatic playoff berth — with nine games left in the regular season. They also pulled even with Dallas in points for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars have played two fewer games.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Lehner steps up

Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, making his third straight start, did well to maintain his team’s lead when Arizona was surging in the first period.

Lehner had to scramble to stop left wing Michael Carcone and right wing Phil Kessel in quick succession and then freeze the puck with 5:06 left in the first. He then turned away Kessel from the slot 44 seconds later.

Lehner finished with 29 saves. He improved to 2-1 with a .910 save percentage since returning from a lower-body injury April 3.

“It’s big, not only for the two points but for me coming back,” Lehner said. “I want to make some saves. Make a difference.”

2. McNabb’s career night

Defenseman Brayden McNabb is known more for his booming hits than his points. Saturday was one of the rare games where he provided more of the latter than the former.

McNabb had a goal and two assists for the first three-point game of his 567-game career. It was his third multi-point game in five seasons with the Knights and 10th overall.

“It’s odd, I guess,” McNabb said. “But it’s nice.”

3. Point streaks grow

Eichel and Stephenson both extended their point streaks to four games Saturday.

Stephenson had two assists to give him six in his last four games. He reached 40 assists on the season, becoming the fourth Knights player to hit that mark in team history along with David Perron, Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone.

Eichel scored in the third period for his 150th NHL goal in his 400th game.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.