(CTN News) – After trailing the Florida Panthers less than 10 minutes into Game 1, the Vegas Golden Knights sent a clear message.
Marchessault said they were ready.
Relentless. With just over 13 minutes left, Zach Whitecloud scored the go-ahead goal and Adin Hill saved arguably the best save of the playoffs, and Vegas beat Florida Panthers 5-2 Saturday night to take the lead.
The tying goal was scored by Marchessault, one of six original Knights from the start of the franchise in 2017. Our goal was to play the right way and be disciplined, and tonight we succeeded.”
Vegas went ahead thanks to Whitecloud, followed by a crucial penalty kill and an insurance goal by Stone. The game’s score looks lopsided thanks to an empty-netter by Reilly Smith.
This offense, along with Hill’s 33 saves, put Vegas up after a feisty opener between Sun Belt teams that wasted little time getting acquainted with big hits during play.
Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore ended a 27-game drought with his first postseason goal. That’s how they wanted it. We just tried not to play into it.”
There’s more to come. The second game is Monday.
As soon as the Panthers fell behind by two, they started playing physically.
Four penalties resulting from a fracas left Florida Florida Panthers bench short.
Long before then, the outcome was decided.
As the crowd of 18,432 fell behind to a shorthanded goal by Eric Staal, the Golden Knights rallied for their ninth comeback win this postseason. The big goal scorer Marchessault answered in the first period.
Hill denied Nick Cousins a certain goal in the second with a desperation stick save. Five years ago, Braden Holtby made a similar save in the same crease against Vegas.
Bruce Cassidy: “That’s an incredible save.” “Key saves are crucial.”
With 10.2 seconds left in the second, Anthony Duclair tied the game. Fans were once again enthused by Whitecloud’s goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky screened and unable to see it.
Bobrovsky, playing in the final for the first time, downplayed any concern after stopping 29 of 34 shots.
“I played well,” Bobrovsky said. My game was solid. Other than Florida Panthers goals, they had some good chances. It was fun to watch them score.”
When play stopped, there was fun.
Hill was not happy with Cousins crashing into his crease and gave him a jab that incited a few scrums. Tkachuk wasn’t happy with Vegas’ Nic Hague’s hit in the corner on Florida Panthers Cousins and the collision with Brandon Montour after the whistle in the second period.
“If guys come into my crease and try to push me around, I will stand my ground.” “I’m not going to do anything too wild, but I’ll stand my ground.”
First time in the final since 2001, Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice exhibited similar calm energy to his first-round win over NHL-best Boston in seven games.
“It will be tight,” Maurice said. Breathe, everyone.
This is the Golden Knights’ second final in six years, five years after their inaugural season. In 2018, Vegas won the opener and lost to Washington in five games.
First Cup since 1996 for the Panthers. 27 years ago, Florida Panthers lost to Colorado in the final, 18 months before Tkachuk was born.
In NHL history, this is the 66th Cup final matchup and the 46th since the expansion era. The final features two teams that have never won the league championship since Washington-Vegas in 2000.