CALGARY — Thanks to goals 10 seconds apart inside the final two minutes of play, the Vegas Golden Knights rallied from behind for a monumental victory on Tuesday night.
In recording its 33rd win, Vegas ties both the 1993-94 Florida Panthers and 1993-94 Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the most wins in a season by a first-year expansion team. The Golden Knights still have 33 games remaining.
“We’re a good team and we deserve a lot of the things that we’ve gotten,” said Haula. “We try to play hard night after night and we have one of the best goalies in the league.”
The tying goal was a bizarre one. Calgary forward Michael Frolik got the puck in his own end and in trying to pass it back to his defenceman, put the puck on his own net instead. Smith stopped it with his pad but Haula buried the rebound, stunning the home crowd.
“My fault,” said Frolik in his first game back after missing 12 games with a broken jaw. “Puck came to me and I panicked a little bit. I should have turned and cleared the puck from our zone and I saw (T.J. Brodie) there and I just tried to pass it to him, but I passed it to his backhand. You guys saw what happened. An awful play.”
Off the ensuing faceoff, Marchessault got the puck off the boards, darted around Mark Giordano and beat Smith over his glove.
“Like the rest of you, I’m a little bit in shock,” said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan. “It’s games like this. They sting. They hurt. They hurt every guy. They hurt everybody here. But it’s how you react to it and the good teams can get back after a tough one like this and that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
It’s the first time in the last two seasons that Calgary has lost in regulation when leading game after two. They entered the night 50-0-3.
“It’s tough to swallow,” said Flames winger Sam Bennett, who scored his seventh goal. “We played a great game up until the last two minutes. It shows you what can happen if you take your foot off for a second.”
David Perron put the puck into an empty net and Reilly Smith also scored for Vegas (33-12-4). The Golden Knights’ six-game road trip continues in Winnipeg on Thursday night.
Matthew Tkachuk had his seventh goal in the last eight games for the Flames (25-17-8), who lost in regulation time for the first time in 12 games (7-1-4).
Picking up the win was Marc-Andre Fleury, who had 31 stops.
“It’s fun when the goals are going in, not in your net, on the other side,” said Fleury, who improves to 13-4-2. “I was looking at the bench to come out to get an extra guy on the ice and then Erik is celebrating. That was nice. (Marchessault) got a nice goal again. It was a good feeling. Awesome.”
Vegas opens up an 11-point lead over San Jose atop the Pacific Division.
“Our guys were pretty fired up on the bench. When you don’t play your best game and the other team is bottling you down, you just find a way to win,” said Vegas defenceman Nate Schmidt.
Smith also had 31 stops. His record falls to 20-14-6.
Calgary took a 2-1 lead at 18:43 of the second on a beautiful wrap-around goal by Tkachuk.
The 20-year-old faked like he was carrying the puck behind the net and spun back the other direction. Not realizing that, Fleury left both feet to desperately dive headfirst towards the far post only for Tkachuk to tuck the puck inside the near post.
Notes: Frolik returned to his regular spot on a line with Mikael Backlund and Tkachukâ€¦ It was the first of four match-ups between the two teamsâ€¦ Haula and Perron extended their point streaks to six games.