Published Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 1:11 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 9:44 p.m.
The Golden Knights got their first taste of playoff hockey Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena, and they felt right at home.
Vegas bruised, battered and outplayed the Los Angeles Kings in a 1-0 win to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Shea Theodore scored the game’s only goal with a wrist shot that was deflected on its way to the net and ricocheted past Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick early in the first period.
Theodore’s goal 3:26 into the contest ignited the record-breaking crowd of 18,479 and they continued to roar for the full 60 minutes.
Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in net, stopping 30-of-30 to earn the 63rd playoff win of his career.
William Carrier provided the Golden Knights with a physical presence, pounding the Kings with 10 hits before leaving the game midway through the third period. Carrier was hit in the head with a vicious hit by Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty and left the ice for the dressing room.
The Golden Knights will host the Kings for game two of the series Friday night at T-Mobile Arena before heading to Los Angeles for games three and four.
Golden Knights lead 1-0 after two periods
Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped all 20 shots faced, and the Golden Knights lead the Kings 1-0 after two periods at T-Mobile Arena in the playoff opener.
Vegas outshot Los Angeles 11-8 in the second period, but trails 20-19 overall in shots on goal.
Neither team has been able to capitalize on power play chances, both going 0-for-3 through 20 minutes.
Shea Theodore, who has the game’s lone goal, leads the Golden Knights with three shots. He has also set up multiple scoring chances with precision passing from the blue line.
The Golden Knights went 31-3-2 during the regular season when leading after two periods, while the Kings were 6-22-4 when trailing after two.
Golden Knights lead 1-0 after one period
The atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena has been spectacular for Golden Knights games all season, but it reached another level Wednesday night for the opening game of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fans waved white towels over their heads, screamed at the top of their lungs, and chanted Marc-Andre Fleury's name, all before the opening puck drop.
It didn't take long for the Golden Knights to provide them something to cheer about, as Shea Theodore gave Vegas a 1-0 lead only 3:23 into the game. Theodore fired a wrist shot from the point, and it was deflected on the way to the net and snuck past Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Kings outshot Vegas 12-8 in the first period, but went 0-for-2 on the power play. Vegas was unable to convert on its only chance with a man advantage despite generating four shots on goal.
William Carrier didn't make it on the scoresheet in the first period, but was a physical presence on the ice throughout, including a big hit on Kings' defenseman Drew Doughty.
The Golden Knights drop the puck for the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight at T-Mobile Arena, but they won’t be at full strength.
The Knights will be without David Perron, who leads the team with 50 assists, when they face the Los Angeles Kings, coach Gerard Gallant said this morning.
Perron has missed the last six games of the season with an undisclosed injury but has been a full participant at practice, so his absence tonight comes as a surprise. He is third on the Golden Knights with 66 points (16 goals and 50 assists).
“He’s a good player and had a great season for us,” Gallant said. “I wish we could play him, but he’s not quite ready.”
Gallant said Perron is considered day-to-day going forward, as is defenseman Luca Sbisa.
In his absence, the Golden Knights are expected to play Tomas Tatar on the second line alongside James Neal and Erik Haula.
“It’s exciting,” Neal said. “Obviously we battled all year for this opportunity and this chance to give ourselves home ice advantage. To be where we are here, starting at home and comfortable, is going to be huge for us.”
The NHL’s top-scoring line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith will be back together tonight for Vegas, with the third line expected to consist of Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter, and the fourth line of Tomas Nosek, Oscar Lindberg and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
“You can tell the guys are a little sharper this morning,” Bellemare said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s the first playoff game for the franchise, so obviously everybody is going to be a little bit extra excited.”
Neal said he hoped to get an afternoon nap in before going to the arena but that he was so excited, it might be difficult.
“That’s playoff hockey,” Collin Miller said. “Everyone is hitting, and it’s a little faster and a little more intense. I think if you have the puck and are making plays, you’re going to get hit. But if you still have the puck, then you’re alright with that.”
Prediction: Golden Knights 3, Kings 2 in OT
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 7 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-140, Total 5.5 minus-125 to the under
Golden Knights (51-24-7) (29-10-2 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (43)
Assist leader: David Perron (50)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-4, 2.24 goals against average)
Los Angeles Kings (45-29-8) (22-14-5 away)
Coach: John Stevens
Goal leader: Anze Kopitar (35)
Assist leader: Anze Kopitar (57)
Expected goalie: Jonathan Quick (33-28-3, 2.40 goals against average)
Golden Knights expected game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, Reilly Smith, Tomas Tatar and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban