January 31, 2018 9:00 AM
A pair of recent themes in the coverage of NHL hockey in Gaming Today involves betting on streaks. One writer believes in betting with a winning streak, even blindly at times; the other questions when a streak even starts, then still handicapping each ensuing contest individually.
Both strategies clashed Tuesday, when the Vegas Golden Knights fashioned another Magic Minute Moment goal — in this case three during a 53-second span over the final two minutes of regulation, shocking the host Calgary Flames, 4-2, in the league’s first night of operation since the All-Star break.
Eric Haula was the benefactor of a huge defensive snafu by the Flames to tie the game with 1:46 to play. Ten seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff Jonathan Marchessault bull-rushed up the right wing to send a top-shelf shot over Calgary goalie Mike Smith for a 3-2 lead.
David Perron then found an empty net for the fastest three goals in club history, but additional history was also cemented. Vegas equaled the record for an first-year NHL club with its 33rd victory, equaling the mark set by Philadelphia and Los Angeles when the NHL doubled its lineup to 12 franchises for the 1967-68 season.
The Golden Knights (33-12-4) also reached 70 points, topping their preseason betting total of 68.5 points posted at most Nevada and offshore sports books.
Holding a late 2-1 lead, the worse thing Calgary could have expected was a league record-tying fifth straight overtime loss. However, again demonstrating how Vegas continues to strive to play a full 20 minutes every period, the Knights wicked fore-check forced Flames forward Michael Frolik to make a back-pass from his own blue line.
Defenseman T.J. Brodie seemed unaware of the pass, so the puck inadvertently sailed on goal to Smith, who kicked it out. The rebound resulted in an easy tap-in for Haula’s 18th goal of the season.
Marchessault followed with his 18th, then Perron connected for his 13th in the final, frantic flourish.
Reilly Smith gave Vegas a 1-0 lead in the first point and goal in seven outings, but Calgary scored twice in the second before the huge collapse.
Calgary had posted a 7-game win streak, then lost four straight contests all in overtime.
On the Vegas side which streak meant more: going 3-0-1 before falling to the N.Y. Islanders prior to the All-Star break, going 3-2-2 since the January mid-season break, or the 14-1-1 run entering the 5-day break? There was also the club’s 11-1-0 mark against Pacific Division rivals.
Vegas continues its 6-game road trip with consecutive contests at Central Division leading Winnipeg on Thursday, at Minnesota on Friday, then a Sunday afternoon matinee at Washington.
Also, Calgary had gone 50-0-3 when leading at home after two periods.