Vegas Golden Knights: Peak William Karlsson returns as he comes up clutch

Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71). Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71). Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

William Karlsson was the hero of the hour for the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

We were treated to peak William Karlsson on Saturday as the forward scored two goals, including the game-winner, as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 to improve to 12-4-1 on the year, but this game was all about Karlsson’s dominance.

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It is fair to say that we have become pretty accustomed to Karlsson doing magical things with the puck on his stick ever since he was acquired by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, recording a career-high 78 points (43 G, 35 A) in 2017-18 as Vegas made a stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year.

Karlsson has also developed a reputation for being able to pull off the unthinkable due to his insane skill level, and he’s also one of the most underrated penalty killers in the NHL due to his blistering speed and killer instinct, along with teammate Reilly Smith.

Now, granted, the 28-year-old hasn’t been quite as productive as he was during his debut season in Sin City, enduring a drop-off in production in both 2018-19 and 2019-20, including putting up 15 goals and 31 assists for 46 points in 63 regular-season games last year.

William Karlsson (71)
Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71). Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

William Karlsson puts on an absolute speed clinic for Vegas Golden Knights

However, Karlsson brings a lot more to the table than just offensive production with the center playing a real reliable 200-foot game, he’s responsible in his zone, he can play in all situations, he’s solid in the faceoff circle and he’s earned votes for the Selke Trophy twice in his career due to his all-round game.

And, as we saw on Saturday night, Karlsson is still an incredibly dangerous potent weapon on any given night and the Anaheim Ducks paid the ultimate price for not doing a good enough job of containing the Swedish pivot, who ran riot for the Golden Knights last night.

With the game tied 1-1 at the second period after Rickard Rakell had got the Ducks on the board first before Alex Pietrangelo evened things up with a wrist shot from the right circle, William Karlsson got to the work in the middle frame.

Well aware of his teammate’s rapid speed, Pietrangelo fired an absolute sublime and pinpoint pass up to Karlsson who had got in behind the Anaheim defense and, despite having three defensemen for close attention, it was too late as the forward managed to get enough lift on the puck in order to beat John Gibson and give his team the lead.

It was a little taster of things to come too as, after veteran center Adam Henrique had made it a tied game at 11:05 in the third period, both teams had to settle for Overtime and that’s when William Karlsson’s magic really came to play.

With 3:23 played, the Golden Knights again did the smart thing by using Karlsson’s speed to their advantage as Reilly Smith saw his running mate start to get behind the Anaheim Ducks defense again, so he spun and played a perfect pass right onto the tape of Karlsson’s stick and the center did the rest by skating in and going to his backhand to beat Gibson with an absolutely filthy move to win the game.

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It was an important goal given that it won the game for the Vegas Golden Knights and improved them to 12-4-1 on the year in the West Division, but it was also a welcome reminder of just how smooth a skater and how fun and entertaining a hockey player William Karlsson is to watch, and with 14 points (5 G, 9 A) in 17 games this season, the forward is a huge piece of that offensive juggernaut for the Golden Knights.