It does not matter who they have in the lineup, and it does not matter who is out of the lineup. It also does not seem to matter who is lining up across from them. The Vegas Golden Knights just keep on winning and remain unbeaten in the NHL’s return to play.
Their 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night gives them a commanding 3-0 series lead in their First Round matchup and puts them in a position to go for a four-game sweep on Sunday when the two teams meet again in Game 4 of the series.
Vegas is now 6-0 since the 2019-20 season resumed after sweeping through the Round Robin phase and jumping out to this series lead on Chicago. They have not only kept winning, they have at times looked dominant and like one of the best teams in the NHL.
It also does not matter what their lineup looks like. They have used both goalies (Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury), they have been without one of their top players in Max Pacioretty at times, and on Saturday they had to play without Paul Stastny and Tomas Nosek. And they just keep right on winning.
On Saturday it was Fleury in net, getting his first start of the series (likely indicating that Lehner will return for Sunday’s Game 4 on the second half of the back-to-back) and playing a nearly flawless game. His only mishap came late in the third period when an Olli Maatta slap shot snuck through to beat him for the Blackhawks’ only goal of the game.
His win on Saturday is the 80th postseason win of his career, tying him with Ken Dryden for sixth on the NHL’s All-Time list. He now sits just eight wins behind Ed Belfour and Billy Smith.
While Fleury was doing his part in goal, William Karlsson and Patrick Brown provided the offense, with Brown’s goal being the game-winner and the first postseason goal of his career.
Karlsson’s goal started the scoring in the first period and was a beautiful shorthanded goal, finishing a fantastic play that was started off by Mark Stone.
Along with the shorthanded goal, Vegas’ penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 in the game.
As for the Blackhawks, well, this postseason appearance has been an unexpected surprise given where they were in the standings when the season was paused back in March and how they went into a seller mode at the trade deadline. In a normal season they would not have had this opportunity, but thanks to their Qualifying Round win over Edmonton it put them into the field of 16 and a chance to get another taste of playoff hockey. While they still have a couple of stars at the top of their lineup and some VERY promising young players (specifically Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach) the first three games here against an elite team show just how far they have to go to get back near the top of the league.
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks (VGK leads 3-0)
Tuesday, Aug. 11: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 1 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 13: Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3 (recap)
Saturday, Aug. 15: Golden Knights 2, Blackhawks 1
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