The Vegas Golden Knights kept rolling on Thursday night with a 4-3 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks, giving them 2-0 lead in their First Round Western Conference series.
With that win Vegas is now 5-0 this postseason after sweeping the Round Robin phase to take the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference. Going back to the end of the regular season, and including the playoffs, the Golden Knights have won 16 out of their past 18 games and are looking like one of the most complete teams in the league.
On Thursday, Reilly Smith was the big hero as it was his goal seven minutes into the overtime period to give them their latest win. He found himself completely alone in front of the Chicago net where he buried a pass from Paul Stastny. Smith finished the game with a goal, an assist, and five shots on goal in the win.
You can see Smith’s game-winning goal in the video posted above.
New starting goalie Robin Lehner also improved his record to 7-0 since being acquired by the Golden Knights — from Chicago — at the trade deadline earlier this season.
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Early on it looked like Vegas might be able to run away with this one after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, while also carrying the play. But Chicago managed to fight back thanks to a big game from Patrick Kane (three assists, including a highlight reel pass to tie the game late in the second period) and a pair of goals from rookies Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik.
Even with that comeback it still always felt like Vegas was in complete control of the game and dictating the pace of play, especially in the third period and overtime. The Golden Knights finished with a commanding edge in shot attempts and shots on goal, including a 23-7 shots on goal edge from the start of the third period.
Vegas was able to do that even though it did not have one of its top players in Max Pacioretty. He was replaced in the lineup by Tomas Nosek, who scored one of the Golden Knights’ first period goals.
Even though the Blackhawks spent most of the final 27 minutes of the game defending, they did come close to winning it in overtime when Dylan Strome fired a shot off the crossbar. They would not really get another chance after that. Now they are in a position where they have to take four out of the next five games against one of the hottest teams in the league to move on.
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks (VGK leads 2-0)
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)
Saturday, Aug. 15: Vegas at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Sunday, Aug. 16: Vegas at Chicago, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Tuesday, Aug. 18: Chicago at Vegas – TBD
*Thursday, Aug. 20: Vegas at Chicago – TBD
*Saturday, Aug. 22: Chicago at Vegas – TBD
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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.