Golden Knights rookie goaltender Malcolm Subban stood on his crease for the first shootout of his young NHL career Tuesday night.
The Anaheim Ducks sent out their three best goal scorers, and Subban turned each of them away to earn the Golden Knights a 4-3 win in the first shootout in T-Mobile Arena history.
The sold-out crowd of 17,608 screamed “Suuub” as the 23-year-old netminder closed out the victory.
It was an important win, improving the Golden Knights to 17-9-1 on the season and 9-1-0 against the Pacific Division, but, more important, it may have foreshadowed the future of the franchise.
Subban held the Ducks scoreless in overtime, and forward Alex Tuch, who was also in the first shootout of his NHL career, scored the game-winning goal.
“It was pretty shocking,” Tuch said. “At first I couldn’t believe I actually scored and then the boys got me into it and I did a little celebration by the bench.”
After Anaheim goalie John Gibson stopped James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault, Tuch deked him onto the ice and backhanded the puck into the top of the net. It was only minutes after Tuch nearly cost the Golden Knights the game when he committed a tripping penalty in overtime.
“I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to sleep tonight,” he said. “It was a roller coaster all night. That’s how hockey goes and that’s how the game is played. You just have to battle through it and get the two points.”
While it was Tuch’s first NHL shootout, he’s been perfecting the move for years.
“I’d say (I learned it) at Boston College,” Tuch said. “I think we only had like one shootout but I just like doing it in practice. I’ve found that I’m pretty good at it, and I wanted to make the goalie stutter a little bit.”
On the other end of the ice, Subban didn’t flinch. The youngster waited out each shooter and calmly stopped all three without much issue.
“I was a little nervous and they have a lot of great shooters over there,” Subban said. “I tried to stay calm and stay with them and fortunately I made a few saves.”
Subban wasn’t just great in the shootout, he singlehandedly kept the Golden Knights in the game with multiple saves on breakaways.
“I thought he played really well and it just shows that the kid’s getting better and more confident,” head coach Gerard Gallant said. “He played well in the third period, made a couple big saves and obviously in overtime made that unbelievable glove save”
Subban robbed Ondrej Kase, who walked in front of the net on a 3-on-1 break and fired it to the right top corner, but Subban caught the puck in the webbing of his catcher.
“He was lights out,” Tuch said. “He was 3-for-3 in the shootout so you can’t get much better than that.”
The Golden Knights again showed they can overcome adversity after surrendering an early two goal lead, only to come back to win.
“It’s resilience, honestly,” Tuch said. “That’s one of the words that (Golden Knights owner) Bill Foley uses is resilience. That’s the type of mentality that he had at West Point and that’s the type of mentality that he wants his Golden Knights to have — resilience, hard work and always pushing forward.”
The two were spectacular in their first-ever chance in a pressure-packed shootout, but this could be only the beginning. Subban’s stops and Tuch’s spectacular overtime goal could be a glimpse into the future.
“That’s not even my coolest move,” Tuch said, laughing while describing his shootout goal. “I have one that hopefully never has to come out because we’re winning.”