Updated January 17, 2021 - 12:16 am
Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone had a plan when they stepped on the ice for the opening faceoff of overtime Saturday.
Whatever it was went out the window almost immediately after the puck was dropped.
Pacioretty scored seven seconds into OT, giving the Golden Knights a 2-1 victory over Anaheim at T-Mobile Arena in the debut of the third jersey.
“I think it was a great sense of belief on the bench given the fact that I think we were playing a strong game and (Marc-Andre Fleury) made so many saves, it just seemed like it was bound to happen,” Pacioretty said. “Great play on the game-tying goal and then give yourselves a chance to win in overtime. But, as I mentioned, it was more a sense of belief amongst the players.”
William Karlsson tied the game with 1:22 left in regulation, and the Knights completed a sweep of the two-game series to open the season despite a strong effort from Ducks goalie John Gibson, who finished with 31 saves.
On the opening faceoff of overtime, Pacioretty won the draw and broke free from Ducks center Sam Steel as Stone moved in from the left wing and poked the puck free.
Anaheim winger Rickard Rakell was lined up on the opposite side of the faceoff circle and overcommitted, which created a two-on-one for Pacioretty and Stone against Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler.
Stone carried the puck across the blue line while Steel and Rakell trailed the play, and the Knights captain slid a pass across to Pacioretty for his second goal in two games.
The goal was the fastest to start a period in franchise history. The previous fastest was when Karlsson scored 14 seconds into the first period against San Jose on Nov. 24, 2018.
“We actually had something else drawn up, but when that guy lined up on the other side, and he really cheated on the faceoff, we were able to help battle, which (Pacioretty) did,” Stone said. “Kind of knocked the guy down, grabbed the puck. Just a quick strike.”
So what was their original plan heading into overtime?
“Not exactly how we drew it up, but I won’t give away our ‘Annexation of Puerto Rico’ there,” Pacioretty said, dropping a phenomenal reference to the trick play at the end of the 1994 movie “Little Giants.”
Fleury made his first appearance of the season for the Knights and finished with 21 saves, none bigger than his stop early in the third period on Rakell from in tight that kept Anaheim’s lead at 1-0.
“When they were up 1-0, we tried to open it up and push a little bit, and that led to some Grade As, and he made a couple huge saves to keep it at 1-0 and give us a chance,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He was real solid.”
Fleury also had a nifty poke-check in the first period on Steel and inched closer to Ed Belfour for fourth on the all-time wins list with No. 467. Belfour has 484 victories.
Max Comtois scored for the Ducks in the second period.
“The whole game we were close with a lot of chances,” Fleury said. “Just trying to do my part to keep the guys in the game and keep the score close so we have a chance to come back.”
The Knights improved to 10-2-2 all time against Anaheim and will meet the Ducks six more times during division-only play.
Comtois tallied at 7:45 of the second period, becoming the 10th player since 1943-44 to score each of his team’s first three goals in a season.
The Knights were caught up ice leading to a three-on-one rush, and Jacob Larsson threaded a pass by defenseman Zach Whitecloud to Comtois, who was uncovered at the side of the net.
“I liked our game better than I liked Game One, and we won that in regulation 5-2,” DeBoer said. “We talked about it between the second and third. This is a veteran group, and we’ve been in these frustrating games before where you’re facing a goalie that’s hot and offense is hard to come by. Not creating offense, but finishing it.
“There was real good composure in sticking with it, and if it took us overtime tonight, it was going to take overtime.”