DALLAS — For the second time as a member of the Golden Knights, Max Pacioretty decided to end a game.
The left wing beat Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop with a backhand move in overtime to rally his team to a 3-2 win Friday night at American Airlines Center. The Knights led 2-1 after two periods, but Stars captain Jamie Benn tied the game with 5:11 left in regulation.
But Pacioretty wouldn’t let his team lose. He received a pass from defenseman Shea Theodore at the offensive blue line and scored the 12th overtime goal of his career and second with the Knights. The former Montreal Canadiens captain then made sure to turn the focus away from himself after the game.
“It definitely feels good,” Pacioretty said of his goal before deftly changing the subject. “We saw the difference tonight when we play the right way and the wrong way. Starting there in the second period we really found our game, and you can see the difference when we’re playing as a unit of five. Making sure we make life hard on their forwards at the blue lines. To play that way for two periods, we deserved to come out with the win, and luckily we were able to.”
They were able to because of Pacioretty, who also had an assist on center Chandler Stephenson’s second-period goal that put the Knights ahead 2-1. Pacioretty leads the team with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games and looks much more comfortable in his second season with the Knights since his trade from the Canadiens.
“(Pacioretty is) getting chances every night,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “That was a huge goal for our team tonight.”
That goal enabled the Knights (17-14-5) to finish their two-game trip 1-1 after losing at St. Louis on Thursday.
The Stars (18-11-4) saw their three-game winning streak snapped. They lost for the first time under coach Rick Bowness, who was promoted Tuesday after previous coach Jim Montgomery was fired for unprofessional conduct.
Here’s what else stood out from the win:
1. Subban weathers storm
The Knights trailed 1-0 after what Pacioretty called a “terrible” first period. They could have been down more if not for goaltender Malcolm Subban.
The backup made 15 saves in the first period, including several from close range. He kept the Knights in the game after a period during which they were edged 14-4 in scoring chances and 7-1 in high-danger scoring chances. The goal he allowed came off a point shot from defenseman Taylor Fedun with 4:46 left in the period.
The Knights had a better push in the second after relying on Subban in the first, and center William Karlsson tied the game 4:20 into the period.
“For him to really stand on his head there gave us the confidence to come back in the game and ultimately win it,” Pacioretty said.
2. Stephenson impresses
Stephenson continued to surprise after being acquired from the Washington Capitals on Dec. 2 for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick.
The 25-year-old’s goal was his third point (two goals, one assist) in six games with the Knights. He had four points in 25 games with the Capitals.
It’s clear that Stephenson has skills. He skates well enough to keep up with Pacioretty and right wing Mark Stone on a line, and his shot is sharp enough, which he proved when he beat Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season.
“It was a little rolling puck. I just wanted to get it off,” Stephenson said. “Obviously, playing with (Pacioretty and Stone), you just have to get open and they’ll find you.”
3. Knights stay strong on back-to-backs
The Knights improved to 5-1 when playing for the second time in two days. They have seven more back-to-back games this season.
“Big two points,” Stephenson said. “A back-to-back, it’s tough. Going home with an extra point is what we were looking for coming in.”