Vegas beats Buffalo 2-1 in shootout to win 20th road game
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — David Perron and the Vegas Golden Knights have won so many times in their inaugural season they’ve stopped counting how many NHL expansion-team records they’ve broken.
Yet, another one fell Saturday when Vegas won its 20th road game by beating the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Erik Haula’s decisive shootout goal. At 20-12-3, the Golden Knights broke a tie with the 1993-94 Anaheim Ducks for most road wins by an NHL team in its first season.
“We broke it? That’s awesome,” Perron said.
“It’s kind of funny. We don’t even think about it too much anymore,” he said. “I don’t think we see ourselves as that kind of team anymore, and we keep looking forward to getting more wins and breaking more stuff.”
The Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights (44-19-5) are running out of milestones to surpass in a season in which they’ve already set NHL expansion records for most overall wins, home wins, points and longest winning streak — an 8-0 run from Dec. 14 to Jan. 2.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland forced overtime by scoring from a bad angle with 4:14 remaining, and Marc-Andre Fleury won his 399th career game by stopping 31 shots through overtime.
After both teams traded one shootout goal apiece, Haula scored in the fifth round by driving up the right side and beating goalie Robin Lehner on the short side.
Justin Bailey scored for Buffalo. Lehner finished with 31 saves.
Buffalo was unable to hang on to a 1-0 lead after Bailey scored 2:27 into the third period, and the Sabres dropped to 10-10-12 in games decided by one goal.
“You look at their lineup versus our lineup, and I think our guys are doing a terrific job,” coach Phil Housley said of an injury-depleted Sabres team that was missing five regulars, including Jack Eichel (sprained right ankle) and Kyle Okposo (concussion).
“But we had an opportunity to close that game out with 4½ minutes to go and those are the areas we have to learn as we move forward,” Housley added.
The Golden Knights were in jeopardy of being shut out for the fourth time this season before Engelland tied the game. Getting the puck in the right circle, Engelland drove around the net to draw Lehner out of position. Coming out the other side, he banked the puck in off Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella, who slid through the crease in a bid to block the pass attempt.
Engelland said he was attempting to feed William Karlsson in front when he watched the puck bank in for his fifth goal of the season.
Fleury was excited to see Engelland rewarded on offense, given how much he does in the defensive zone.
“He blocks a lot of shots for me,” Fleury said. “And when he can get compensated for it with a goal, I was happy. It was huge for our team.”
Fleury was coming off a 28-save outing in a 4-0 win at Detroit on Thursday and had his shutout streak snapped at 130 minutes and 40 seconds, dating to the second period of a 4-1 loss at Columbus on Tuesday.
Fleury laughed about how well the Golden Knights have played away from Vegas, where they are 24-7-2.
“A lot of people talk about the ‘Vegas Flu,'” Fleury said, referring to the perception that visiting teams might be distracted by what Sin City has to offer. “But you talk to the team and it’s great for our confidence. And that’s why we’re where we’re at in the standings.”
Vegas became just the fifth team to win 20 road games this season. Of all NHL teams, only two had won 18 or more — Anaheim and Florida (18) — in their inaugural seasons.
NOTES: Golden Knights RW Reilly Smith traveled home because of an undisclosed injury. Smith was hurt against Columbus. Coming off a 20-point month of February, Smith is as listed day to day, and coach Gerard Gallant said he was sent home because he wasn’t going to play at Philadelphia on Sunday. … Golden Knights D Nate Schmidt returned after missing four games with an undisclosed injury. … Golden Knights rookie RW Alex Tuch, who is from Syracuse, New York, grew up a Sabres fan and estimated he had 450 family members and friends on hand for his first game at Buffalo.
Golden Knights: Close five-game road swing at Flyers on Sunday.
Sabres: Enjoy four-day break before hosting Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
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