The Stanley Cup Finals got underway last night in Las Vegas, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 to take Game 1. Both teams took different paths to the Stanley Cup Finals but were similarly dominant in the playoffs. Vegas led the Pacific Division and Western Conference with 111 points, while the Panthers snuck into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card with 92 points.
The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in 5 games, Edmonton Oilers in 6 games, and Dallas Stars in 6 games to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers upset the best regular season team of all time, the Boston Bruins, returning from down 3-1 to defeat the Bruins in 7 games. They then beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in 5 games and won against the Carolina Hurricanes in 4 games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In Game 1, Eric Staal opened with a shorthanded goal for the Panthers. They took an assist from Anton Lundell and wrapped the puck around the net for a score. After both teams had some chances, including a shot off the post by Florida, Vegas tied the game on a power play goal by long-time Golden Knight Johnathan Marchessault.
The Panthers nearly added to their lead early in the second, but Vegas goalie Adin Hill made a ridiculous diving save to knock the puck away with his stick to keep the game tied at 1 for the time being. Shea Theodore scored for Vegas off a long wrist shot to make it 2-1 Knights before Anthony Duclair tied the game at two off of a face-off with time running low in the second period.