CALGARY — It may not have been pretty, but Shea Theodore will take it.
After the Calgary Flames rallied to score three in a row, Theodore scored the game-winning goal with 1:10 left to play to lift the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-3 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday.
“That was big,” said Theodore, whose shot deflected off Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane‘s stick and into the top corner behind stunned Flames goalie David Rittich. “When a team ties it up late, if anything you don’t want to give anybody in the division points. It was a lucky play, but it was a big play. Sometimes you just throw it to the net and good things happen.”
Nick Holden had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights (38-24-8), who regained top spot in the Pacific Division over the idle Edmonton Oilers (37-24-8).
“Points are so tight this time of year, especially with a back-to-back here and then Edmonton (Monday) night,” Theodore said. “I think getting some confidence from tonight and building off that is going to be key going down the stretch.”
“I’m still adjusting a little bit,” said Lehner, who improved to 3-0 with his new team. “It was a big two points and we’ve got to keep building. We battled hard and didn’t give them too many chances. They got a break (on the tying goal) and made a pretty good play. It was big, but I thought we played to our structure and battled hard.”
Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames (36-27-7), who had won three straight games heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Knights.
“Up until the last few minutes of the game, we did exactly what we needed to do,” Lucic said. “It’s just a tough tip off our own stick right underneath the bar. I mean, he shoots that 100 times, I guarantee you it’s not going in 99 out of 100, so it’s just a tough one after working ourselves back into the game after being down 3-0.”
Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk also scored for Calgary.
“We battled back from their lead and I think did some good things tonight, so we’ve got to build on that,” Dube said. “There’s no time to dwell at this time of the year with how tight it is.”
Rittich’s troubles on home ice continued as he took the loss after stopping 27 of 31 shots he faced. Since backstopping the Flames to a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Dec. 12, Rittich has gone 0-6-1 in his past seven starts at the Saddledome.
Nosek opened the scoring at 5:24 of the first period when he deposited a rebound past Rittich, who stopped the initial shot by Ryan Reaves.
Vegas went up 2-0 at the 11:49 mark of the first when Holden took a pass from Nick Cousins and snapped a quick shot past Rittich.
Calgary appeared to pull within one at 15:50 when Mikael Backlund swatted a rebound past Lehner, but the goal was disallowed after replays showed Backlund interfered with Lehner before scoring.
“After we had that disallowed interference goal, we stared to get on the forecheck, started to get on the body and started winning more puck battles and I felt that’s what we weren’t doing in the first 15 minutes of the game,” Lucic said.
Pacioretty put the visitors up 3-0 with a power-play marker at 3:39 of the second when he one-timed a pass from William Karlsson past Rittich.
The Flames then rallied with goals by Lucic at 8:23 and by Dube a little more than eight minutes later. After Lucic snapped a shot through Lehner’s legs, Dube beat the Vegas netminder with a shot just over his blocker during a man advantage for the Flames.
Tkachuk pulled the Flames even with three minutes remaining in regulation when he took a pass from Mangiapane and lifted a backhand shot past Lehner.
Notes: Knights forward Mark Stone missed his fifth game in a row with a lower-body injury, while his older brother and Flames defenceman Michael Stone sat out his sixth straight contest as a healthy scratch. â€¦ After being scratched for the past eight outings, Zac Rinaldo drew back into Calgary’s lineup in place of fellow forward Tobias Rieder, who had suited up for 10 straight games. â€¦ After being involved in a collision in his own zone early in the first period, Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin left the ice with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.