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3-goal 1st period propels VGK to 3-0 lead

If there was ever a doubt that the Vegas Golden Knights would have trouble setting the tone early in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, those doubts were all silenced in the first 7:10 of the game when VGK raced out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back.

The Golden Knights defeated the Dallas Stars 4-0 to take a 3-0 series lead Tuesday, May 23 inside the confines of American Airlines Center.

“We finished plays so when you get a lead on the road, it makes it a little easier to relax and not to chase the game,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We did it by playing the way we wanted to play and that’s the encouraging part.”

This was only the third time in the fourteen games in these playoffs that Vegas has scored the first goal of the game. They did it once against the Winnipeg Jets, once against the Edmonton Oilers and now once against the Stars.

All three times that Vegas has scored the first goal of the game this postseason has been on the road.

Vegas now holds a 3-0 series lead as the series will remain in Dallas for Game 4 with the Stars now facing elimination. Game 4 is set for Thursday at 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN nationwide.

This is the first time in major professional sports history that all conference finals in both the NBA and NHL have had one team win the first three games of a series in the same year. The Denver Nuggets recently completed a series sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat took the first three games of their series against the Boston Celtics and the Florida Panthers are up 3-0 in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

One of the turning points in the game happened in the first 1:53 of the game when Stars captain Jamie Benn received a five-minute major penalty along with a game-misconduct for a hit on Vegas captain Mark Stone. Benn hit Stone in the neutral zone causing the Vegas captain to fall to the ice and then hit Stone in the jaw/neck area with his stick as he was laying on the ice.

This set up a five-minute power play where Vegas was able to score the game’s second goal and take any sort of energy and momentum Dallas may have had leading up to that point.

Benn elected not to speak to the media after the game.

Dallas picked up 35 penalty minutes in the game compared to six for Vegas. In addition, the Stars recorded 34 shots on goal compared to 16 for the visiting Golden Knights.

Vegas goaltender Adin Hill continued to get the nod in net and he did not disappoint Golden Knights fans Tuesday night. Hill completed a 34-save shutout, his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career.

“He was outstanding and he’s been outstanding since he got in against Edmonton,” center Ivan Barbashev said. “He just makes the saves that keeps us in the game especially in the last game in overtime. They could have finished it but he made the save and it went the other way and I scored. He’s been outstanding and a huge part of our team.”

Barbashev finished the game with three total points netting a goal and chipping in two assists. Barbashev scored less than six minutes into the game to make it a 2-0 contest before fans could make it to their seats.

He also assisted on goals from right-winger Jonathan Marchessault and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo who scored his first goal this postseason.

“I feel pretty good about my game right now,” Hill said. “It speaks volumes to our team. We haven’t lost many games in these playoffs. We’re on a roll right now and we’re playing really well defensively. We just want to keep it going and focus on the next game.”


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