Updated October 6, 2018 - 11:15 pm
ST. PAUL, Minn. — When Paul Stastny whiffed on a rebound attempt with an open net during the opening minute of the second period, all signs pointed to a frustrating evening for the Golden Knights.
When Stastny was turned away by Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk from point-blank range at the end of a pretty passing sequence late in the second, they appeared to be snakebit.
But the Knights kept plugging away and were finally rewarded with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Wild on Saturday before an announced crowd of 19,077 at Xcel Energy Center.
Max Pacioretty tied the game with 1:31 remaining in regulation, and Erik Haula scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Knights a much-needed two points to open their five-game road trip.
“Sometimes results don’t happen there, but they were playing well and they kept pushing it and pushing it, and it paid off,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “The hockey gods come through late in the game when we played real good. The guys stuck with it. They played hard, and they played our game.”
The Knights, who lost all three matchups with Minnesota last season, had a 47-23 advantage in shot attempts through two periods but trailed 1-0 on defenseman Matt Dumba’s goal in the first period.
After the Knights pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra attacker and called a timeout with 1:40 left in the third, Jonathan Marchessault found Pacioretty in the slot.
Pacioretty one-timed the pass past Dubnyk for his first goal with the Knights after being acquired from Montreal last month.
“We really liked our game,” Pacioretty said. “We liked our close support, we liked how we were fast on pucks. We were creating turnovers and getting chances, hit some posts, missed some open chances. We knew eventually it would come. That’s just the way it works.”
Fleury made a key stop on Zach Parise early in the overtime and caught a break when Mikko Koivu hit the post a short time after.
Fleury stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout and finished with 29 saves. It was his first victory at Xcel Energy Center, and he improved to 3-8 lifetime against the Wild.
“There wasn’t much action, so sometimes you’re standing there on your head,” Fleury said. “I think it’s just trying to stay focused, trying to stay in the game and keep it at 1-0 so the game doesn’t get out of hand.”
In the shootout, William Karlsson and Marchessault were denied by Dubnyk before Haula’s shot through the five-hole trickled past his former teammate with the Wild.
Dubnyk stopped 41 of 42 shots.
“Of course it feels good, not going to lie,” Haula said. “But overall winning here, a lot of the guys say that it’s really hard to win here and they don’t know if they’ve done it a lot. Going 0-3 last year and getting a win to start the road trip, it’s nice.”
The Knights dominated the first period, generating 10 scoring chances to two for the Wild, but couldn’t solve Dubnyk.
Stastny was denied from in tight and Haula put the rebound off the post with 9:08 left in the period.
Minnesota’s breakthrough came midway through the first when Dumba took a pass from Charlie Coyle and ripped a shot through traffic that slipped by Fleury.
“We played real good, and if we would have lost the game 1-nothing, it would have been tough to lose it,” Gallant said. “But again, we played our game tonight. We played fast, we played hard and we had lots of chances.”
1. Drop the gloves. Ryan Reaves made his 500th NHL appearance a memorable one, as he got the better of Marcus Foligno in a third-period fight. It was Reaves’ first fight with the Golden Knights since he was acquired at the trade deadline in February.
2. Leading the way. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant utilized the line of Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Erik Haula as his No. 1 line against the Wild. The trio accounted for 12 shots on goal and produced both goals, including Haula’s shootout winner.
3. Zucker struggles. Wild forward Jason Zucker, who was raised in Las Vegas, had a quiet night with no points and three shots on goal. He also was caught in no-man’s land moments before Knights forward Max Pacioretty powered in the tying goal late in the third period.
David Schoen Review-Journal