CALGARY — Bailed out by his goaltender after a third period giveaway, MacKenzie Weegar paid Dan Vladar back by securing him the win.
Weegar scored with five seconds left in overtime Monday night and Vladar was excellent in turning aside 27 shots as the Calgary Flames won 2-1 over the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He did an amazing job. By far his best game of the year for us,” said Flames coach Ryan Huska. “There were some key moments in the game where it could have went the other direction off of some turnovers and he made some big saves for us.”
One of those instances came with the score tied 1-1 midway through the third. Weegar lost the puck at the Vegas blue line giving Ivan Barbashev a breakaway, but Vladar stood tall and made the stop with his right arm.
“Danny Boy stepped up there big and he really bailed us out a few times,” said Weegar.
The game-winner came on an end-to-end rush. After corralling the puck behind his own net, Weegar chugged his way up the ice, weaving his way into the Vegas zone where he flung a 35-foot wrist shot past Hill on his blocker side.
“He's getting chirped all the time that he's got a muffin,” said Vladar, with a chuckle. “I think he's got a great shot and he just proved it there.”
Weegar called it his biggest goal as a Flame.
“Absolutely. I don't have an overtime goal. It comes at the right time against a great team, (to start a) six-game homestand,” Weegar said. “That's exciting. That's fun.”
Vladar didn't find out he was playing until two hours before game time when Jacob Markstrom was ruled out with the flu. Not expecting to play, he was on the ice for an hour and 20 minutes at morning skate, working with the healthy scratches.
Instead, Vladar made consecutive starts for the first time and was sensational in his first home start since Feb. 28 of last season. He improves to 4-2-1.
With emergency backup goaltender Dustin Nickel looking on, there were also a couple of scary goal crease collisions involving Vladar. Early in the first, William Carrier went flying backwards into the net, clipping Vladar at the knees and sending him flying. He was penalized on the play. In the second period, Weegar fell to the ice and slid into the Flames net, again sending Vladar toppling over.
“Felt like a football player out there a little bit,” said Vladar. “Obviously it gets you going a little bit too when you get in some contact as well.”
Adin Hill got the start for Vegas, making 32 stops to fall to 9-2-2.
A.J. Greer also scored for Calgary (9-10-3), which extends its home-ice points streak to four games (3-0-1).
William Karlsson scored the lone goal for Vegas (14-5-3).
“It's another game where we're in the game, playing well enough to win. If we finish some of those Grade A's we're not sitting here talking about a loss,” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy.
After a sizzling 11-0-1 start to the season, the Golden Knights are 3-5-2 since.
“Not our best, not our worst, either,” said Vegas forward Nicolas Roy, who was robbed twice by Vladar in the second period. “It just feels right now that we don't find ways to win. Obviously every team in this league is going to have bad stretches. We're in one right now.”
Vegas opened the scoring at 13:53 of the first when Karlsson buried a Michael Amadio rebound on a power play for his 10th goal.
After a scoreless second period, Calgary pulled even at 2:31 of the third when Nazem Kadri's shot hit a Vegas player in front and fell right at the feet of Greer, who ripped it past Hill for his fourth goal.
Calgary lost Chris Tanev late in the third when he dove to try and block Karlsson's wrist shot from the high slot and got the puck directly in the face. He dropped to the ice immediately holding his face.
There was no update on Tanev's condition post-game other than he was up and walking around.
“You wish that everybody has what he has,” Huska said. “He's got a different level of courage that if you can give a little bit of what he's got to other guys on your team, oh man. He's a pretty special person.”
With Markstrom's illness not confirmed until after the game-day roster transaction deadline had passed, Nickel was signed to an amateur tryout to be the emergency backup. The 32-year-old Calgarian's last notable hockey stop was with Mount Royal University, his last season being 2015-16.
He found out he was dressing when he woke up from a nap two hours before the game. All he had time to eat was a banana before he dashed for the rink.
Getting his mind racing was the early collision between Vladar and Carrier that happened just to the left of where he was sitting at the end of the Flames' bench.
“There's so much going through my head in my head at that point, and I was hoping he was getting up,” said Nickel. “Especially when you look up and you see that there's 55 minutes left in the game!”
NEW LOOK, SAME RESULTS
Mired in a 1-for-29 skid on the power play over the previous 10 games, Calgary shuffled the personnel on both of its power-play units, but the shakeup didn't work as the Flames went 0-for-3. Vegas was 1-for-3.
Golden Knights: Three-game Western Canada road swing continues in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Flames: Six-game homestand continues Thursday night when the Dallas Stars visit the Saddledome.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press