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FSM Essential Recap: VGK vs Blackhawks – 8/12/2020

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The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 4-1 in Edmonton to take a 1-0 lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

 

vgk vs blackhawks
Photo Courtesy: NHL

The first period seemed to be dominated by the Golden Knights, but it ended up scoreless. It appeared both teams were feeling each other out. But Shea Theodore kicked off the scoring just over seven minutes into the second on a wrist shot that beat Corey Crawford on the glove side. Just over two minutes went by when William Carrier would clean up a rebound from inside the crease.

Perhaps the only blemish of the night came off a short-handed goal by David Kampf of the Blackhawks just over halfway through the second. Reilly Smith would score twice in the third to give Vegas plenty of breathing room. Vegas has outscored their postseason opponents by a margin of 11-1 in the third period since the restart.

Max Pacioretty’s return created a ripple effect throughout the lineup. Chandler Stephenson moved down to the third line, Nicolas Roy moved down to the fourth line, and Tomas Nosek was scratched. That may have been part of the reason Vegas had a slow start.

 

 

The biggest surprise of the night was not Robin Lehner starting in goal, and if he starts game two that also should not be a surprise.

 

 

VGK vs Blackhawks
Photo Courtesy: Second City Hockey

I felt the biggest surprise was keeping Nick Cousins on the third line and moving Nicolas Roy to line four. There was a lot of hype surrounding the potential third line of Stephenson, Roy, and Alex Tuch. Moving Nicolas Roy to the fourth line is an interesting move, and it paid immediate dividends. Roy may be able to find more space on the ice playing against the opposition’s third defensive line. That could create line mismatches as well.

Robin Lehner looked solid on two good skates and got the job done when he suffered a flat tire in the second period. Credit the team in front of him for allowing only twenty shots on goal. Lehner looked confident and in control from the beginning.

Chicago came into tonight’s game confident after upsetting Edmonton in the qualifier. Vegas only had a series of tune-ups leading up to tonight’s game. Point being Chicago may be at peak performance, and Vegas will improve throughout the series.

Next up for Vegas is game two against Chicago on Thursday at 2:30 pm.

 

 

Game 1 Quotes:

 

VGK vs Blackhawks
Photo Courtesy: Second City Hockey

“Goals are huge in the playoffs, and sometimes it’s just throwing pucks on net and then hoping for bounces,” Reilly Smith said. “So we’ve got to continue to do that. The ice isn’t great, so over passing doesn’t really help, so we get pucks on net and try to crash it. Playoffs, this is where you score dirty goals, so we’ve got to continue to do that.”

“What’s so good on our team is everyone works back, everyone’s blocking shots,” Robin Lehner said. “The (defense) was really good today about cleaning up the rebounds. They’re a dangerous team, so we just got to tighten up a little bit. I think we can be even better.”

“There’s no better duo in the NHL for goalies,” Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault said. “(Fleury) is an amazing team player as well. He was the first to cheer the boys on in the locker room, and he’s such a leader on and off the ice. I think whoever’s in that, we, we feel 100% confident as a group.”

“I think we’ll definitely have adjustments, but for the most part, I think we did a pretty good job,” Chicago’s Brandon Saad said. “We’ve got to know that’s how the series is going to be. We can’t just when things aren’t going our way get frustrated or if they score a goal, kind of get let down.”

 

 

Series game schedule:

 

Tuesday, Aug. 11: Vegas 4, Chicago 1
Thursday, Aug. 13: Chicago at Vegas, 2:30 p.m. PT – NBCSN
Saturday, Aug. 15: Vegas at Chicago, 5 p.m. PT – NBC
Sunday, Aug. 16: Vegas at Chicago, 3:30 p.m. PT – NBCSN
*Tuesday, Aug. 18: Chicago at Vegas – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Vegas at Chicago – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Chicago at Vegas – TBD

*if necessary

 

 

The magic number for the Golden Knights to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup is now 15.

Go Knights Go!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: TDChrisG

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