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Erik Haula Ready To Feel Joy Of Playoffs

by Gary Lawless @goldenknights /
Erik Haula has felt the anguish. He'd like to feel the joy of playoffs success.
Haula spent parts of four seasons with the Minnesota Wild before joining the Vegas Golden Knights this summer. The last two seasons saw the Wild lose in the first round of the post-season and left Haula with a bad taste.
The 27-year-old scored 29 goals in the regular season and potted the overtime winner in Game of this opening round Stanley Cup playoff series to give Vegas a 2-0 series lead.
Haula sat down with us for a chat on Sunday:
Thoughts on how focused you were on having success in the playoffs here after your team struggled in Minnesota…
Yeah, absolutely. Honestly, I just remember a quote from last year that I had after we lost to St. Louis. I said something like I'm being sick of losing and my whole pro career I had been in the playoffs every single season. We had some good teams and have seen some different situations. We just weren't able to prevail. Like last year, I thought we had one of the stronger teams in the west and it just shows how hard it is to win. You learn little things as you go, and just how important those things are.
Thoughts on Vegas being up 2-0 and the Wild being down 2-0 in their current series…
No, I don't. Obviously, I know what's going on but the main focus is in here. What I've been saying is we're up 2-0 but there's so many examples of being up 2-0 at home and going to the away building and all of a sudden it's a 2-2 series. That's obviously something you look to prevent and that's why nothing is done. There's so much work to do still and it sounds all good right now obviously, being up 2-0 but it's like we saw yesterday. Little things that can change the momentum of a series or momentums of the game. The margin of error is so small in the playoffs. And like I said, it's just so hard to win. You just have to keep taking it little things at a time.
Thoughts on what your phone looked like when turning it on last night after the game…
Yeah, there were a couple messages there. Obviously some friends and family congratulated me. It wasn't easy to fall asleep. I was still pretty hyped up getting home. Obviously the body is tired. The mind is still there and just trying to, as fast as possible, trying to kind of forget. Sounds kind of stupid in a way, but you're trying to forget because like I said, we have a lot of work to do still. They're a really good team. They're going to play really well at home and have the support that we had from our crowd in their building. It's like I said yesterday, we're going to have to be better because I know they're going to be better.
Thoughts on you guys having to keep playing your way…
Yeah, it does sound simple but if you look at the season as a whole, when we're successful is when we're playing that way. Right now is a time where it doesn't matter who gets the credit of whatever it is. All that matters is coming out on top after the game is done. There's so many little plays that happen or little things that happen that are differences in a game. Somebody is ultimately going to score the goal but there's so many plays that happen. Just can't stress the minutes that some of the guys played. The first two game Karlsson's line is doing an awesome job. Schmidt and McNabb, they've done an awesome job against Kopitar's line. Now we go to their building so the matchups are going to change a little bit I'm sure. They did a great job. They haven't gotten all credit or what not but they've done a really good job against that line so far.
Thoughts on how you make sure you're skating north-south…
I just try to use that as my strength. I watch video on my game, I try to get better on it. I try to find different ways of getting the puck in full speed. Finding ways to use that to my advantage. I played with James Neal obviously a long time and he knows how to slow the play down. He knows how to look for me in different situations. It was a great example of the goal. He slows the play down and I try to get my speed going a little bit where I get a little bit of separation and ultimately get a chance to score.
Thoughts on if the goal was as good as what you dreamed of…
Yes it was an incredible feeling. I have my mom and my brother here and it was very special. Just seeing the emotions on their face after the game and my girlfriend. Obviously just in whole, having just after the game, after a grind like that, the satisfaction level is very high. Everyone is all smiles. Everyone can take a deep breath. It is one of those things, like I said. I haven't scored an overtime goal and I'm glad it happened at this point.
With a win tonight…
-The Golden Knights would take a 3-0 lead. They would become the third team to win their first three playoff games and become the first team to do it in their inaugural season.
Hot Start To Postseason Play
The Vegas Golden Knights became the third team in NHL history to win a playoff game requiring multiple overtimes in its inaugural season. Vegas joined the Blues in Game 3 of the 1968 Quarterfinals vs. PHI and Game 7 of 1968 Semifinals vs. MNS, as well as the Flyers in Game 6 of the 1968 Quarterfinals at STL. The Golden Knights also became the fifth franchise in NHL history to win each of their first two playoff games and just the second to do so in its inaugural season. The only other team to win its first two postseason games during its inaugural season was the Los Angeles Kings, when they started 2-0 in 1968.
Golden Knights Capture Pacific Division, Finish Fifth In The NHL
The Golden Knights earned a Y beside their name in the standings after clinching the Pacific Division with their victory over the San Jose Sharks on March 31, 2018. Vegas became the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four North American professional sports leagues to start from scratch and finish first in its division (excluding mergers and all-expansion divisions). The team also finished fifth in the league, becoming the first expansion team from any of the four North American professional sports leagues to start from scratch and finish among the top-five in the league.
X Marks The Spot
The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche (March 26) to become the third expansion team since 1968-69 - and first to start from scratch - to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 1979-80, the Hartford Whalers and Edmonton Oilers each reached the postseason after joining the NHL from the World Hockey Association. Only four other expansion clubs from any of the four North American professional sports leagues qualified for the playoffs, and they were all from the NBA: 1966-67 Chicago Bulls, 1976-77 Denver Nuggets, 1976-77 San Antonio Spurs and 2002-03 New Orleans Hornets.
Striking First
The Vegas Golden Knights finished the regular season with a 34-5-2 record when scoring the first goal of the game and their .829 win percentage when recording the opening mark ranks second in the NHL. Vegas has scored first in both playoff games this year and hold a 2-0 record.
La Fleur Fleurit
Despite missing 25 games due to injury earlier this season, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has put together a stellar season. His 2.24 goals-against average and his .927 save percentage are career-bests. He finished the season tied for second in the league in goals-against average and tied for sixth in save percentage. The Sorel, Quebec has 117 career playoff games to his credit, good for 13th place all-time among NHL goaltenders and second-most among active netminders behind Henrik Lundqvist (128). Fleury's 64 career playoff wins are the most among active goaltenders and rank 12th all-time, one behind Dominic Hasek. His 11 playoff shutouts rank 11th all-time.
Positive Vibes
Multiple Vegas Golden Knights forwards sat atop the Plus/Minus standings at the end of the regular season. William Karlsson (+49) led the league and Jonathan Marchessault (+36) finished second. Reilly Smith (+31) finished tied for seventh while Brayden McNabb (+26) was tied for 13th and ranked tied for fifth amongst defensemen.
William "Wild Bill" Karlsson
Forward William Karlsson (43-35-78) scored his first goal of the season in overtime against St. Louis (Oct. 21). He finished third in the NHL in goals. His highlight-reel goal against the San Jose Sharks tied him with Brian Bradley (TBL, 1992-93) for the most goals scored by a player on an expansion team in their inaugural season (excluding mergers) and he passed Bradley with a goal at Vancouver. Only five players scored more goals while playing on a team in its inaugural season. The Marsta, Sweden, native led the NHL in plus/minus with a plus-49 rating and finished tied for eighth with 78 takeaways.
170 x 170
Defenseman Brayden McNabb's work on the blue line has been turning heads this season. The Davidson, Saskatchewan, native leads the Golden Knights with 225 hits and 176 blocked shots during the 2017-18 season. He is the only player in the NHL to record at least 170 in each category this season. McNabb tallied a career-high 11 hits against the New Jersey Devils (March 4), which was tied for the third most hits in a game this season. He has recorded career-highs in hits (225), blocked shots (176), takeaways (30) and goals (5). So far during the playoffs he has seven hits in two games.
2017-18 Season Series: 2-1-1 (Home: 1-1-0, Road 1-0-1)
Nov. 14, 2017 - VGK 4, LAK 2
Dec. 28, 2017 - VGK 3, LAK 2 (OT)
Feb. 26, 2018 - LAK 3, VGK 2 (OT)
Feb. 27, 2018 - LAK 4, VGK 1
2018 Playoffs: 2-0 (Home 2-0, Road 0-0)
April 11, 2018 - VGK 1, LAK 0
April 13, 2018 - VGK 2, LAK 1 (2 OT)
April 15, 2018 - @ Los Angeles
April 17, 2018 - @ Los Angeles
April 19, 2018* - @ Vegas
April 21, 2018* - @ Los Angeles
April 23, 2018* - @ Vegas
* If Necessary
Connections to Las Vegas
-The Golden Knights selected Brayden McNabb from the Los Angeles Kings during the Expansion Draft on June 21.
-Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller  was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth-round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
-Brayden McNabb (2014-17)
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