Vegas take Game 1 from Chicago Blackhawks
Welcome back to the Stanley Cup playoffs, Chicago.
You remember what those look like, right?
Big, crunching hits. More scrums. Fewer scoring chances. Less time and space.
Fortunes turning on a dime.
OK, yes, the Blackhawks were "technically" in the playoffs against Edmonton. But that was really just a play-in series to get to the real thing, which began Tuesday night with the eighth-seeded Hawks taking on one of the Western Conference's best teams in the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Hawks hung in there for two periods, but Corey Crawford gave up a soft goal to Reilly Smith early in the third and Vegas went on to claim a 4-1 Game 1 victory. Smith added a second goal, Shea Theodore and William Carrier also scored for the Golden Knights, and former Hawks goalie Robin Lehner made 19 saves.
David Kampf scored short-handed for the Hawks at 10:51 of the second period, just 72 seconds after Carrier made it 2-0.
Game 2 is Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
"Overall we played pretty well," said Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton. "There was a seven-minute stretch of the third where we weren't very good. We started cheating. It's a 2-1 game and we started cheating to try and score. We're gonna have to be more patient in order to win this series. ...
"We did a lot of things that can help us win, but we've got to do it for longer. And that's the message going forward here."
The Hawks stuck with Vegas through a scoreless first period and then responded after the Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Theodore and Carrier. The Hawks lost a challenge on Carrier's goal, claiming offsides, which gave Vegas a power play.
The Golden Knights could have seized control at that point, but a sensational individual effort by Brandon Saad set up a short-handed goal by Kampf. That cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:51 of the second.
"It was huge," Kirby Dach said. "For us to respond the way we did was good."
Smith's goal just 3:32 into the third period ended up being the backbreaker. Vegas' talented forward, who scored a career-best 27 times this season, zipped a hard wrist shot at Crawford from just outside the right faceoff dot. Crawford saw it all the way, but the puck hit his blocker, bounced over his right shoulder and ended up in the back of the net at 3:32 of the third period.
Smith scored again at 8:14 to effectively put the game away.
Jonathan Toews (2), Patrick Kane (1), Brandon Saad (0) and Alex DeBrincat (0) combined for just 3 of the Blackhawks' 20 shots on goal.
Crawford finished with 29 saves.
Vegas was credited with 35 hits, with 5 coming from both the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ryan Reaves and Carrier, who is 6-2, 218.
"Their 'D' are big, they box out, they play strong," Saad said. "But we knew that going into the game. It's going to be a tight-checking game, there's going to be moments where we're pinned in, but that can't frustrate us. We just have to stick with it, maybe get more pucks and bodies to the net."
Said Colliton: "We expect a tight series. We expect it to be a grind. We expect to face adversity. We did that and we were right there. ...
"We've just got to stick with it. They did it a little bit longer than us."