Vegas Golden Knights Sweep Kings In First Round of NHL Playoffs
Posted on: April 18, 2018, 12:00h.
Last updated on: April 18, 2018, 12:05h.
The Vegas Golden Knights emphatically punched their ticket into the second round of the NHL Playoffs by sweeping the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 in their first round series.
The Golden Knights finished off the Kings after Brayden McNabb scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory Tuesday in Los Angeles. All four victories for the Golden Knights came by a single goal.
The win is a historic one for Vegas, which has already seen them achieve a number of NHL firsts. The team was the first modern expansion team in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues to win its division in its first season. They are now the first NHL team to ever sweep a playoff series in its first season in existence.
Fleury Getting Hot at the Right Time
The NHL can be all about having a goalie get hot at the right time, especially in the playoffs. That bodes well for Vegas, as their star player is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Having won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fleury is one of the most successful postseason goalies of all time, something the Golden Knights knew when they selected him in the expansion draft – even if they never expect to get this kind of success so quickly.
“We knew when we got him we got a superstar goaltender,” head coach Gerald Gallant told reporters after the final game of the series. “He has carried our team a lot. He was huge for us, and at key times. LA put a lot of pressure on us the last two nights and had a lot of good chances to score and he just shut the door.”
Fleury made 30 saves and recorded a shutout in Tuesday night’s game, and made a number of huge stops throughout the series, giving up only three goals on 129 shots in total for an incredible .977 save percentage. That comes following a season where he set career bests in save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.24 per game).
“I feel good but it’s always one game at a time,” Fleury told reporters. “I think we are [confident] and I am too, but you don’t want to be too high or too low because it’s a long ride until the end.”
Could Vegas Go All The Way?
The Golden Knights will now wait to see who they play in the second round. Vegas is slated to take on the winner of the series between the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks, a series that the Sharks currently lead three games to none.
With a team that has defied expectations since the start of the season, and with Fleury playing as well as ever, the Golden Knights are looking like a team that could potentially make a serious run at a Stanley Cup no matter who they have to play.
According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Golden Knights are now listed as the co-favorite (with the Nashville Predators) to win the Stanley Cup, at 4/1 odds. Online sportsbooks have also started to see Vegas as a leading contender: the team is second choice at 17/4 according to Ladbrokes, while Bet365 has them as the favorite at 15/4. That’s an incredible turnaround for a team that was listed at 200/1 or more by bookmakers at the start of the season.
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