Relentless Golden Knights draw first blood in physical Stanley Cup showdown with underdog Florida Panthers 5-2 rout as Adin Hill saves playoff in comeback win
- Zach Whitecloud scored from long range with just 13 minutes left in the lead
- The Golden Knights had fallen behind on a shorthanded goal from Eric Staal
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The Vegas Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill may have made the playoff save as he reached out and stuck out his stick to stop Florida’s Nick Cousin from scoring and help Vegas draw first blood .
Zach Whitecloud scored from long range with just over 13 minutes remaining to put Vegas ahead, a crucial penalty followed and captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal which was reviewed for a high stick and confirmed.
That combination, plus Hill’s 31 saves, gave Vegas the series lead after a spirited opener between the Sun Belt teams that wasted little time getting to grips with big hits during play and lots of pushing. and jostling after the whistle.
Original Knights players Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore also scored against Florida’s two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Vegas Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead over the Florida Panthers on Saturday
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill may have made the playoff stoppage
Captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal late in Vegas’ 5-2 win at Sin City
The Panthers upped the physical game late after falling behind by two. A handful of penalties resulting from a smash with 4:24 remaining left the Florida bench short.
But the outcome was determined long before that.
Returning to the Finals, they will now try to avoid the same result as in 2018, when Vegas beat Washington in Game 1 and lost the next four to miss out on winning the Cup in its inaugural season.
After falling behind on a shorthanded goal by Eric Staal that sucked the lives of the crowd of 18,432, the Golden Knights rallied for their ninth comeback in the playoffs. Marchessault — known since arriving in Las Vegas when the franchise made its big-goal debut — responded before the end of the first period and Theodore scored his first since March 7 in the second.
In between, Hill made a desperate save to deny Nick Cousins what would have been a safe goal. The stoppage was reminiscent of one Washington’s Braden Holtby made against Vegas – in the same trick – five years ago.
Giving up an tying goal to Anthony Duclair with 10.2 seconds left in the second didn’t slow the Golden Knights’ momentum much. Whitecloud’s goal, with Bobrovsky thrown around and unable to see, once again fired fans up.
A handful of smashing penalties with 4:24 remaining left the Florida bench short
The Golden Knights had fallen behind on a shorthanded goal from Eric Staal (left)
The Golden Knights are in the Finals for the second time in their six-year history, five years after appearing in their inaugural season. Vegas won Game 1 in 2018 and lost the series to Washington in five games. There are six players left from that original team.
The Panthers are back for the Cup for the first time since 1996. Florida were swept by Colorado in that final 27 years ago, 18 months before the birth of Tkachuk, the team’s leading playoff scorer. playoffs.
It’s the 66th different Cup Finals meeting in NHL history and the 46th since the expansion era began in 1967-68. It’s the first time since Washington-Vegas and only the third time since the turn of the century that the finals feature two teams that have never won the league championship.
The Golden Knights will look to extend their series lead in Game 2 at Sin City on Monday.