After winning their first playoff game Wednesday night and their first overtime playoff game Friday night, the Vegas Golden Knights notched another first Sunday night.
James Neal’s tiebreaking goal at 14:23 of the third period lifted Vegas to its initial road playoff victory, a 3-2 decision over the host Los Angeles Kings that gives the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Neal, one of the few Vegas players with a wealth of playoff experience, had scored just one goal in his past 19 games prior to powering past Kings defenseman Oscar Fantenberg along the right boards. Neal then beat goalie Jonathan Quick from the right circle with a wrister between the pads, snapping a 1-1 tie.
William Karlsson tacked on insurance 21 seconds later with his first goal of the playoffs. Reilly Smith teed him up from behind the net, and Karlsson poked a wrister past Quick’s stick side.
That turned out to be valuable when Anze Kopitar deflected a point shot by Fantenberg at 17:56 to draw the Kings within a goal. However, Los Angeles couldn’t pot the equalizer, enabling the Golden Knights to take a chokehold in an increasingly chippy series.
Marc-Andre Fleury withstood a barrage in net for Vegas, making 37 saves, including 16 in the third period.
The Golden Knights can advance to the second round with a win in Game 4 on Tuesday night at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
After beating Fleury just once in 1-0 and 2-1 defeats in Las Vegas, the Kings were able to crack the code at 13:14 of the first period. Alex Iafallo roofed a wrister from the left post off Kopitar’s feed for his first goal. The play was originally ruled no goal but was overturned upon review.
Los Angeles nursed that lead into the third period, but three missed power-play opportunities following Iafallo’s marker loomed large.
The Golden Knights responded with the tying goal at 6:10 of the third. Cody Eakin hit the post on a point-blank wrister but got a second chance and made no mistake from the right circle.
That set the stage for Neal and Karlsson to bring Vegas to the brink of eliminating the Kings.
—Field Level Media