Shea Theodore and William Carrier scored 2:17 apart midway through the second period, Robin Lehner made 19 saves against his former team, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat Chicago 4-1 in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoffs first-round matchup on Tuesday night.
Reilly Smith scored twice in the third period as the top-seed in the Western Conference kept their scoring outburst from the round-robin seeding games going in the playoff opener. The Golden Knights scored 15 goals in the three seeding games and didn’t slow down against Chicago.
Game 2 is Thursday.
Lehner, who was traded from Chicago to Vegas in February, was the backbone of a Golden Knights defence that shut down Chicago. Lehner’s biggest problem was a faulty skate blade that led to delays in the second period.
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Chicago’s veteran stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith were mostly held quiet. Toews and Kane both hit posts, but combined the trio had just five shots on goal.
David Kampf scored short-handed for Chicago in the second period thanks largely to the work of Brandon Saad forcing a turnover, but that was the extent of Chicago’s scoring.
Theodore scored his third goal of the post-season, flicking a wrist shot past Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford from the right circle. Minutes later, Carrier jabbed home a loose puck in front of Crawford’s net after Ryan Reeves had thrown the puck on net to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead.
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Smith assisted on Theodore’s opener before finding the net himself twice in the final 20 minutes. Both goals were assisted by Jonathan Marchessault, the second allowing Smith to skate in free and lift a backhanded shot over Crawford’s glove.
Vegas earned the top-seed in the Western Conference after winning the Pacific Division and going 3-0 in the round-robin qualifying round to determine playoff seeding.
But Chicago was an unexpected first-round opponent for the Golden Knights. Chicago, as the No. 12 seed, was impressive in dispatching heavily-favoured Edmonton in four games in the qualifying round.