William Carrier was back smiling at City National Arena on Saturday wearing a yellow fourth-line jersey, signaling the gritty left wing has a chance to return to the lineup soon.
Coach Pete DeBoer said Carrier will be a game-time decision Sunday against the San Jose Sharks. If the the 27-year-old can come back from his undisclosed injury, he’ll provide speed and sandpaper for a Knights team fighting for its playoff life.
His return may also be the last one the club has this regular season. The Knights have five other regulars on long-term injured reserve in centers Brett Howden and Nolan Patrick, right wing Reilly Smith, defenseman Nic Hague and goaltender Laurent Brossoit. None practiced Saturday, and DeBoer said he didn’t expect any to return to the lineup by the time the regular season ends Friday.
“I think the guys that are on the ice today are the guys that we’ll have available to us this week,” DeBoer said. “I don’t see anyone that’s not on that list coming in.”
Carrier hasn’t played since March 26 against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has seven goals and 11 assists in 59 games. He is one goal and point away from tying his career highs.
The Knights will also welcome the physical presence Carrier brings. He is second on the team in hits (150) behind right wing Keegan Kolesar (243).
”If he is back, it’ll be awesome,” right wing Michael Amadio said. “He’s a great addition to the lineup.”
Tuesday’s game in Dallas may decide the Knights’ season because they are chasing the Stars in the wild-card race. They don’t want to overlook Sunday’s matchup with San Jose, however.
The Sharks have been eliminated, but the Knights are expecting their best effort. San Jose is 1-7-4 in its last 12 games but has only lost by more than two goals once in that stretch.
The Sharks took two playoff teams in Minnesota and Edmonton to overtime in that span and were within one goal of Calgary, Vancouver and St. Louis before late empty-netters.
The Knights have won 11 straight against San Jose, including two wins this season.
“I’m sure they’d like nothing more than to end our season, or have a hand in it,” DeBoer said. “That’s a given.”
Saturday was the Knights’ third consecutive day without a game. It’s the longest break they’ve had since March 27-29.
It was an important time for the team to take a breather. It finishes the regular season with four games in six days.
“These three days have been good for us,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We’ve been going at it for a while.”
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