ESPN News Services1 minute to read
LAS VEGAS – Zach Whitecloud scored from long range with just over 13 minutes remaining, after Adin Hill saved the playoffs. The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 Saturday night in Game 1 of the last Stanley Cup.
Whitecloud’s goal put Vegas ahead, a crucial penalty kick ensued and captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal that was reviewed for a high stick and confirmed. That combination, plus Hill’s 31 saves, gave Vegas the series lead after a rowdy opener between Sun Belt teams that wasted little time figuring out big hits on the play and a lot of shoving and shoving after the whistle.
Original Knights players Jonathan Marchesault and Shea Theodore also scored on Florida’s two-time winning streak, Sergei Bobrovsky.
Back in the final, they will now be trying to avoid the same outcome of 2018, when Vegas beat Washington in the first game and lost the next four to fall short of lifting the trophy in their inaugural season.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Panthers, who edged past the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes last week.
Florida also lost a road game for the first time since the first round, when the Panthers upset the Boston Bruins.
The second game is on Monday in Las Vegas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.