Reilly Smith continues setting up goals for Golden Knights

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Gerard Gallant, Jonathan Marchessault and Marc-Andre Fleury have received most of the praise for the Golden Knights’ incredible postseason run (rightfully so), but forward Reilly Smith has also played a significant role in Vegas’ success.

Smith has found the back of the net just once during the playoffs, but he’s accumulated 14 points in 12 games and he’s collected at least one point in 10 of those contests. Of his 13 assists, nine have been of the primary variety, including the two he picked up on goals by Marchessault in Monday’s 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

He was one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, but the 27-year-old’s production wasn’t unexpected after he posted a career-high 60 points during the regular season while playing on the left side of Vegas’ top line with William Karlsson and Marchessault.

One of the impressive things about Smith and the Golden Knights first line is that they don’t get all the offensive zone starts that some of the other dominant lines in hockey get. According to Natural Stat Trick, 43.75 percent of Smith’s zone starts have come in the offensive zone this postseason.

“That top line, when they get going and they make some plays and they’ve got some time and space like they did, they score a couple of beautiful goals,” Gallant said of his top line after Game 2. “They were really good and they were strong defensively, also. Great game from that line.”

Smith has also found way to have his CF% per over 50 percent in all but three games and of the Golden Knights forwards that have played at least 10 games, Smith ranks fourth in CF% (54.78) behind Karlsson, Marchessault and Ryan Carpenter.

Not bad for a guy who was acquired from the Florida Panthers as part of a salary dump.

Sure, he could stand to chip in with a few more goals between now and whenever Vegas’ season ends, but he’s still getting shots on goal. His 28 shots rank fourth on the team, but his shooting percentage of 3.6 percent is lowest among forwards that have scored. You’d have to think that the number will climb a little bit in the near future.

Regardless of what happens to the Golden Knights in this series, they can rest easy knowing that they stole a player like Smith. And if they do go all the way, he’ll certainly be one of the key reasons for that.

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Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.