Vegas takes Game 1 against Washington
The Vegas Golden Knights keeps shaking up the NHL by winning, but in Monday’s opener of the 101st Stanley Cup the Golden Knights were left all shook up.
The Knights’ left winger Jonathan Marchessault lay on the ice for about a minute after he was blindsided in the neutral zone by right winger and Washington Capital’s resident tough guy Tom Wilson.
Wilson got two minutes for the whack, and while the NHL Player Safety committee reviewed it, he won’t be called to the carpet for the hit. Strange considering he’s a repeat offender who already was benched three games during the playoffs for a hit that broke the jaw of Penguins’ rookie forward Zachery Aston-Reese.
“I have the puck, try and make a play. I see the puck going away, (the hit is) couple seconds late. I don’t think I really have to talk about it, I think the league is going to take care of it,” Marchessault told a Vegas Golden Knights reporter in an interview after beating the Caps 6-4 and taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven finals series.
Marchessault’s instincts, however, were wrong.
The hit punctuated what was a see-saw battle that saw even the tough guys — Wilson and the Knight’s Ryan Reaves — put the puck in the net, ostensibly against two of the best goalies in the game.
“I am not a first liner, no,” Reaves said in a post game interview with Golden Knights media. “I have always been a goal scorer, just on the fourth line.”
The night started with a bang in Vegas with its infamous playoff pre-show, with cannons, arrows made to look like they were on fire and having boxing announcer Michael Buffer introduce both teams, the stage was set for an epic Game 1.
The Golden Knights wasted no time in going after the Capitals after the puck dropped, out shooting Washington 5-1 just minutes into the game. Defenceman Colin Miller would be the first player for the Knights to score in a Stanley Cup final series game. It was his third of the playoffs.
Before the goal Vegas had an astounding record of winning games 10-1 while scoring the first goal of the game in the playoffs this year.
But that frightful statistic didn’t stop Washington from coming back, scoring back-to-back goals at the 15 minute mark of the first period. Right wing Brett Conolly would score first followed by centre Nicklas Backstrom nearly 30 seconds later to give the Caps the lead.
Knights’ centre William Karlsson tied the game a few minutes later.
By the end of the second period the game stayed deadlocked at three goals apiece after right wing Riley Smith goal for the Knights, which was followed up by a goal by Capitals’ defencemen John Carlson.
But while Wilson maintained his notoriety with the hit, Reaves would be essential in the game winning goal after lifting the stick of Caps’ defencemen Michael Kempny, which allowed Golden Knights’ blue liner Shea Theodore to make a perfect pass to forward Tomas Nosek for the game winning goal.
Nosek would then score again in an empty net with three seconds left in the game to seal the win.
With both teams finding the back of the net — and often — and with tempers starting to flare in this series, it sets up for an interesting Game 2 in Las Vegas.