The Vegas Golden Knights won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final over the Florida Panthers on Saturday by a score of 5-2.
The game was tied after two periods and ultimately the shots ended up being 35-34 in favor of Florida. But Vegas was lifted by two goals in the third period followed by an empty netter to seal the win.
It was not as ugly for the Panthers as the final score might indicate. Of course, shots on goal are not the only indicator of a close game. But Florida had 2 glaring “would’a, should’a, could’a” moments.
Early in the second period, Nick Cousins was set up beautifully for a tap-in goal that he didn’t bury. Granted, Adin Hill made an unbelievable save. But Cousins has to bury that and no one knows that more than him.
Then in the third period, Mark Stone’s unassisted goal was a bit of a fluke. Very impressive. But he batted down a cross-ice pass and a quick release later it was in the back of the net.
Entering this Stanley Cup Final, the odds indicated how even of a series this was despite an eight-seed meeting a one-seed. Game 1 reinforced how even this series is, as well as the thought that this could go six or seven games.
|Florida Panthers v Vegas Golden Knights - Stanley Cup Final Game 2
|T-Mobile Arena, Nevada
|20:00 ET, Tuesday June 6
|How to watch
|TNT, TBS, TruTV
|FLA Panthers +120, VGS Golden Knights -140
Continue to smother their opponent. This is no indictment on the offensive ability of the Golden Knights. But Vegas has been successful this postseason primarily by shutting down the opposition.
Their average of 2.61 goals allowed per game, including 2 goals allowed in Game 1, does not leave much for the offense to contribute in order to win a game.
his team is more than capable of scoring three goals. If they can continue to be responsible on the defensive side of the puck, the Golden Knights will be difficult to beat.
The Golden Knights had a tough task on their road to the Stanley Cup Finals in the form of playing against an Edmonton Oilers team that had Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Entering Game three, McDavid had 15 points in eight games played while Draisaitl had 17 points in eight games played. Vegas promptly won three of the next four games all the while holding those superstars to a combined six points over that span with McDavid being the primary contributor.
The ability of the Golden Knights to limit the offensive chances of the top players on the opposition has been a key factor in them getting to this point. If they continue to win, that will likely continue to be the case.
Kept things simple. The Panthers have plenty of top-end talent. But not as much as the Bruins, Maple Leafs, and arguably Hurricanes, all of which Florida bullied on their way to clinching the Eastern Conference.
Of course, that is subjective. But the Panthers won 11 out of 12 games by keeping it simple. Execute when the opportunities are there and contain the opposition to low percentage chances. That is the epitome of keeping things simple.
In Game 1, the Panthers made avoidable mistakes leading to goals allowed that ended up costing them the game.
On the first goal allowed, three Panthers were sucked below the goal line which led Jonathan Marchessault wide open in front for an easy one-timer.
On their fourth goal allowed, Mark Stone just plain made a heck of a play that probably doesn’t happen twice. Along with a couple of other breakdowns, the Panthers’ goals allowed were largely avoidable. If they can clean it up and keep things simple, they will go back home with a 1-1 series split.
The Golden Knights are the favourite in Game 2, currently holding -140 odds to the Panthers’ +120 on the money line.
Vegas is +195 on the -1.5 puck line while Florida is -235 to cover +1.5 goals.
The over under is currently 5.5 with the over showing more likely at -120 odds while the under is at +100.
To reiterate, this has the makings of a very even series. The margin of error in Game 1 was smaller than the score indicates.