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October 16, 2017

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Blog: Golden Knights win first game in franchise history

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LM Otero / AP

Vegas Golden Knights left wing James Neal (18) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

Updated Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 | 8:24 p.m.

Golden Knights victorious in first game in franchise history

Cody Eakin slid a puck through a Dallas Stars defender to a wide-open James Neal, but Neal slipped to the ice.

Neal then gathered the puck, and fired it over a diving Kari Lehtonen into the goal from his knees to give the Golden Knights a 2-1 win in their first game in franchise history.

The Golden Knights were vastly outplayed for the first two periods, but goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had a spectacular performance to keep them within striking distance. Fleury stopped 45 of the 46 shots he faced, and the Golden Knights trailed 1-0 entering the third period.

Neal then became the answer to trivia questions for years to come by ripping a shot past Kari Lehtonen with 9:33 to play. The 30-year-old then scored the game-winner with 2:44 to play.

Stars finally solve Fleury

In a second period absolutely dominated by the Stars, Marc-Andre Fleury is the only reason Dallas isn’t carrying a four or five goal lead into the third. The 32-year-old has already saved 33 shots through only 40 minutes of play, including a breakaway by Alexander Radulov.

But with 2:59 left in the period, the Stars finally found a way to sneak one by Fleury. Tyler Seguin tipped a puck over Fleury’s shoulders and into the net on a power play following a holding penalty by Colin Miller.

The Golden Knights didn’t have many chances of their own, despite getting six power play opportunities, until the final minute of the period. Brendan Leipsic followed his own shot and appeared to poke the rebound in for a goal.

Unfortunately for Vegas, the referees called it no goal and upheld the call after a video review.

Scoreless after one

The Golden Knights weathered the early storm, as the Dallas Stars pressured them heavily in the first few minutes. That was largely due to Marc-Andre Fleury, who was spectacular in the first period with 14 saves.

On the offensive end, Vegas continued its struggles with a man advantage. The Golden Knights went 0-for-3 on the power play, and will start the second period with their fourth.

Stars forward Antoine Roussel was called for two penalties (tripping and goaltender interference) and caused another when he left the box before the time on his penalty had expired.

Golden Knights forward David Perron came out firing, with three shots, but none found their way past Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. While they didn’t find the net, the Golden Knights moved the puck much better in the offensive end than they did in the preseason, which is promising heading into the second period.

Las Vegas victims honored

The Dallas Stars formed a line next to players from the Vegas Golden Knights to honor victims of last weekend's mass shooting before the debut of the first major pro sports franchise in Las Vegas.

After Dallas introductions marking the 25th season since the NHL came to Texas, the Stars players skated from their blue line to the Vegas blue line so that both sets of players were together for pregame remembrances Friday night.

The Stars first honored a staff member who died in a car wreck during the offseason before paying tribute to play-by-play announcer Dave Strader, who died of bile duct cancer at 62 the same day of the Vegas shooting that killed 58 people.

There was were brief moments of silence for each, and the video board read "Viva Las Vegas" as the public address announcer said, "Dallas stands with Vegas and those affected by the horrifying tragedy."

• • •

DALLAS — The Golden Knights begin their inaugural campaign with an opening-night game in Dallas against the new-look Stars.

Vegas closed out the preseason with three straight losses at T-Mobile Arena, largely due to a lack of scoring. The first line of Jonathan Marchessault, Vadim Shipachyov and Reilly Smith isn’t clicking yet, but it’s still early.

“I think every day it’s gotten a little better,” Smith said. “The first game we played together in Colorado, we were all over the map, but since then it’s gotten better, especially being able to go and watch video together every day after practice.”

They won’t be getting any work tonight, as Shipachyov is surprisingly with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. The first-line center is scheduled to make $4.5 million this year, but he wound up being sent to the minors during the final cuts of camp due to the Golden Knights having more players than roster spots. Because Shipachyov can be sent down without passing through waivers, he was the odd man out.

Expect him to be back with the Golden Knights sooner rather than later, but he will miss tonight.

Dallas, meanwhile, has high expectations after an offseason of big moves in free agency.

The Stars are hoping they fixed their goaltending deficiencies by trading for Ben Bishop. Dallas allowed 3.2 goals per game in 2016-17, second worst in the NHL behind Colorado, while Bishop had a goals against average of only 2.54 in 39 games with the Lightning and Kings.

The Stars also added Alexander Radulov, who had 54 points for the Montreal Canadiens last season, and defenseman Marc Methot, whom they acquired in a trade with the Golden Knights.

Puck drops: 5:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

TV: DirecTV 684, CenturyLink Prism 1760, Dish Network 5414, and Cox channel 96

Betting line: Golden Knights plus-205, Stars minus-230, Total 5.5

Golden Knights (0-0-0) (0-0-0 away)

Coach: Gerard Gallant

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (0-0, 0.00 goals against average)

Dallas Stars (0-0-0) (0-0-0 home)

Coach: Ken Hitchcock

Expected goalie: Ben Bishop (0-0, 0.00 goals against average)

Injury Report : Vegas forward James Neal missed the entire preseason recovering from offseason surgery after breaking his hand during last year’s playoffs. He is in the lineup tonight and is expected to make his debut as a Golden Knight.

Golden Knights game day roster

Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Brendan Leipsic, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron and Reilly Smith.

Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa and Nate Schmidt.

Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban.

Prediction : Golden Knights 3, Stars 2

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