Golden Knights used its Stanley Cup connections to beat Stars
October 07, 2017 9:00 AM
by Staff & Wire Reports
Expansion team given little chance of beating the heavily favored Stars in Dallas – ha! Vegas used its Stanley Cup connections to prove most everyone wrong.
Marc Andre Fleury kicked aside 45 of 46 shots and James Neal produced two third period goals as the Golden Knights stunned Dallas 2-1 to win their inaugural National Hockey League game.
Fleury won three Stanley Cups for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Neal was a past teammate of Fleury’s and came over from Nashville, which lost to the Pens in the Stanley Cup finals a year ago.
It was Fleury who kept the Golden Knights in the game with spectacular goaltending, allowing just one goal which came on a power play from a deflection in the front of the net by Tyler Seguin late in the second period.
The Golden Knights were playing five days after the shooting that killed 58 people in Las Vegas, and the Dallas players honored the desert city by forming a line next to their Vegas counterparts before the national anthem.
Vegas became the first expansion team to open with a victory since the Ottawa Senators in 1992. They also spoiled Coach Ken Hitchcock’s return to Dallas 18 years after he directed the franchise’s only Stanley Cup title.
Both of Neal’s goals came against Kari Lehtonen after starting goalie Ben Bishop left with an apparent facial injury after taking a puck to the mask. Bishop had stopped all 19 shots in his Dallas debut after coming over in a trade with Los Angeles and signing a long-term contract with the Stars.
Neal began his NHL career with Dallas and was expected to be a top offensive threat for the Golden Knights. He beat a screened Lehtonen between the legs midway through the third period for the tying goal.
The go-ahead goal came in transition when Neal got the puck past Lehtonen from his knees with 2:44 remaining. Lehtonen shared the job with Antti Niemi the past two seasons, and the Stars made it clear in the off-season they were going a new direction at goalie.
Vegas won’t have much time to celebrate as they hit the ice again Saturday night at Arizona. The home opener is this coming Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena against the Coyotes in the second of the back to back.