But if Saturday was Lagace’s final game before heading back to the minors, he certainly went out on a high note.
Lagace came through with 36 saves, including two key stops in the final seven minutes, and lifted the Knights to a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
“I’m taking it day by day,” Lagace said. “I can’t go and look to the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If it’s my last one, I’m glad we got the win. Otherwise, I don’t even know, so I’m not going to think about those things.”
David Perron had a goal and an assist, while Cody Eakin and Brendan Leipsic each had two assists to help the Knights (19-9-1, 39 points) win their fourth straight and take the rubber match in the season series with the Stars.
Lagace took over as the Knights’ No. 1 goaltender in late October after starter Marc-Andre Fleury, backup Malcolm Subban and third-stringer Oscar Dansk went down with injuries.
The win improved Lagace’s record to 6-6-1, and he’s posted a 3.79 goals-against average and .877 save percentage in 14 appearances.
But with Fleury returning to practice last week and set to come off the injured-reserve list barring any setbacks, Lagace is expected to return to Chicago of the American Hockey League.
“You never know when you get opportunities in the NHL, and we’re really proud of him, the way he came in in an extremely tough position,” Perron said. “He knew he was almost the last goalie on the line there. … He made some key saves at the right time to get the win.”
Dallas (16-13-1) cut the Knights’ lead to 4-3 when Jamie Benn snapped a shot past Lagace 4:17 into the third period and had a chance to tie the game on the power play when Brayden McNabb went to the penalty box with 7:07 left.
Lagace denied Tyler Seguin, the Stars’ leading scorer, while laying on his stomach with 6:44 remaining.
He then stopped Antoine Roussel on the doorstep about two minutes later to the dismay of most of the 18,532 in attendance.
“I knew they were going to buzz,” Lagace said of the Stars. “They like to look for the tap-ins and stuff like that, so I just kept my head on the puck and it ended up on my blockers or pads. It was nice.”
Added Knights coach Gerard Gallant: “Max was outstanding. He was the difference maker in the game tonight, for sure.”
Perron, Reilly Smith and McNabb scored 3:37 apart in the second period around a goal from Dallas’ Jason Spezza to put the Knights ahead 4-2.
Erik Haula scored for the third straight game when he iced the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute. Alex Tuch converted in the first period off a pretty feed from Leipsic.
“We’ll take the two points tonight and keep moving forward,” Perron said. “It’s nice. Every night there’s someone else stepping up at the right time to score a big goal, and we need to keep that going.”
After losing back-to-backs last week at Minnesota and Winnipeg, the Knights took the maximum four points available on this trip against Nashville and Dallas to improve to 8-7-1 on the road.
The team opens a pivotal five-game homestand Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at T-Mobile Arena.
“We were confident coming in,” Gallant said, “but to come on the road and play two real good teams like we played and get four points … I like the way we played on this road trip.”
1. Perron milestone. Forward David Perron was credited with an assist on Erik Haula’s empty-net goal for the 400th point of his career. Perron has 166 goals and 234 assists in 675 NHL games with the Blues, Oilers, Penguins, Ducks and Golden Knights.
2. Beating Bishop. The Knights finally solved Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop after failing to score against him in the first two meetings. Bishop had 19 saves in the season opener before he took a puck to the mask and left the game. He had 34 saves in a 3-0 win Nov. 28 and stopped the first 11 shots he saw Saturday before Alex Tuch’s opener.
3. Helping hand. Brendan Leipsic picked up two assists for the Knights and now has 10 this season. Leipsic’s total is the most in the NHL among forwards who have not scored a goal.