Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) maneuvers the puck from Edmonton Oilers center Conn ...

Golden Knights’ William Karlsson welcomes son, beats Edmonton Oilers

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It’s a good thing William Karlsson claims to be a “pretty good napper.”

The Golden Knights center didn’t get much sleep leading up to Friday’s Game 5 against the Edmonton Oilers because his wife Emily gave birth to their first child, a boy named Beckham, at 1:33 a.m. Karlsson said his wife sent him home a few hours later, he fell asleep at 4 a.m., and he got about four hours of rest before waking up to attend the Knights’ usual pregame meetings at City National Arena.

The team let him skip morning skate to try to sneak in a few more winks ahead of puck drop. Karlsson then got an extra four hours in before playing a key role in the Knights’ 4-3 victory at T-Mobile Arena that put them on the brink of advancing to the Western Conference Final.

Karlsson said the win was the “cherry on top” of a crazy 24 hours for him and his family. He said it was “surreal” to witness the birth of his son, and it gave him a whole new appreciation for the moms in his life — including his wife — before Mother’s Day on Sunday.

“When I think about what women have to go through, it’s pretty incredible,” Karlsson said. “I’m very glad that I witnessed the whole thing.”

Even with the lack of sleep, Beckham’s timing was perfect for his father.

Karlsson said he went to the hospital after the Knights returned from Edmonton on Thursday and spent the rest of the day there. He was able to be present for everything, right before the team needed to take off again for Alberta on Saturday.

Karlsson said his wife’s mother and sister are in town to help out. That made him feel better about leaving the hospital Friday morning to rest up for Game 5. As did the fact that his family is healthy.

“Everyone’s good,” Karlsson said. “The little guy, he’s doing great. Mom as well.”

Karlsson said he took a few hard strides in warmups Friday night to make sure to get his legs going before the game. He said he felt good, and it certainly showed in his play.

Karlsson got the secondary assist on left wing Reilly Smith’s go-ahead goal in the second period thanks to a superb zone entry on the power play. He also put in his usual impressive defensive effort at five-on-five.

Karlsson played 6:22 against Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was named a Hart Trophy finalist for the fifth time in eight seasons Friday. The Knights had a 3-2 edge in high-danger scoring chances during those minutes, according to the website Natural Stat Trick.

“I mean, (Karlsson) has been one of those guys that you don’t talk enough about, you know?” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “He’s unbelievable offensively, but the way he plays defensively and the way he makes everybody look so much better out there, we’re definitely lucky to have him.”

Karlsson’s performance makes him the latest beneficiary of the “dad bump” sweeping the Knights’ locker room.

He is the sixth first-time father on the team in the last calendar year, after center Chandler Stephenson, Smith, captain Mark Stone, left wing Brett Howden and defenseman Brayden McNabb. The new dads are five of the Knights’ top 10 scorers this postseason, and their No. 3 defenseman in terms of ice time in McNabb.

The group’s strong play has coach Bruce Cassidy rethinking his offseason program.

“We may be looking at calling the guys again in July,” said Cassidy, drawing huge laughs to close out his postgame news conference Friday. “That’d be something to consider. A summer project.”

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





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