Marc-Andre Fleury was honored for his 400th victory by the crowd at T-Mobile Arena less than two minutes into the first period Wednesday.
The Golden Knights’ goaltender was pulled early in the second.
“Weird game,” coach Gerard Gallant said.
Fleury allowed four goals on 11 shots, and the Knights were buried by a four-goal third period in an 8-3 loss to the opportunistic New Jersey Devils in front of a season-high 18,420 fans.
The Devils scored twice in 36 seconds early in the second period and also benefited from an own goal off the stick of Knights forward Tomas Tatar in the first period.
The eight goals is tied for the most allowed by the Knights.
“I’ve never been part of a game like that,” Knights wing David Perron said. “Every other time in my career that it was a tough night as a team like that, it was because we weren’t playing well. I don’t know what to think. Just move on I guess.”
Erik Haula scored twice and Colin Miller had a goal and an assist for the Knights (45-20-5, 95 points), who had their three-game winning streak halted.
The Knights are 10 points ahead of second-place San Jose, a 4-3 overtime winner over Edmonton, in the Pacific Division.
Fleury, who earned his 400th win Monday at the Philadelphia Flyers, went to the bench 2:31 into the second period after Stefan Noesen’s breakaway goal gave New Jersey (36-26-8, 80 points) a 4-0 lead.
It was the first time this season Fleury has been pulled.
“I’ve got to be better, you know, making saves and keeping our team in the game,” Fleury said. “I’m just disappointed not to be able to make a key save to keep us in the game.”
Haula slammed home a rebound on a power play for his 26th goal and Miller sent a wrister from the point past Keith Kinkaid with 1:05 left in the second to cut the Devils’ lead to 4-2 and give the Knights the momentum entering the third period.
But Blake Coleman scored his second goal of the game for New Jersey early in the third, and the game got out of hand at that point.
“First period, I was happy. We’re down 2-0 but we had a couple of bad breaks,” Gallant said. “Second period, we come out, give them two goals early, but we come back to make it 4-2 at the end of the period and I thought we were going to win the game. We were playing good. We were playing strong.”
Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Michael Grabner each finished with a goal and an assist for New Jersey.
Kinkaid was the latest backup goaltender to victimize the Knights, making 38 saves.
The Knights had a 13-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period and owned a 74.4 Corsi For percentage (29-10 in shots attempts) but had nothing to show for it against Kinkaid.
And the Devils cashed in on their few opportunities.
First, Brian Gibbons found Coleman streaking down the slot with the Golden Knights on a power play for a 1-0 lead at 6:23. It was the Devils’ ninth short-handed goal, tied for third in the NHL.
Less than two minutes later, the Knights fell behind 2-0, victimized by a bad bounce as Tatar, hustling on the backcheck to try to break up the New Jersey rush, instead redirected Hischier’s pass into his own net at 8:10 of the first.
“Tough. The first period, I thought we were all over them,” Haula said. “We had all four lines going. Everyone was playing well. But there were a couple of breaks, and it was a tough night.”