EDMONTON—Even though Reilly Smith called it a lucky bounce, a whole lot more than luck is working right now for the Vegas Golden Knights.Smith scored in overtime, Robin Lehner made 22 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Blackhawks 4-3 on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series. Vegas has won all five of its games since the NHL resumed.Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 35 of the 39 shots he faced, including 16 in the third period alone.The Western Conference top-seeded Golden Knights are looking for their first playoff series victory since 2018. They reached the Stanley Cup Final that year, then lost to San Jose in seven games in the first round last year.This was the third game already in the first round to go to overtime. Tampa Bay beat Columbus in the fifth overtime Tuesday, and Boston beat Carolina in double OT Wednesday. Smith’s goal came 7:13 into the first OT.Paul Stastny opened the scoring for Vegas 10:44 in after strong work down low by Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, and Nosek made it 2-0 at the 15:35 mark of the first period. It was Stastny’s first goal since hockey returned.The Blackhawks got goals from rookies Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik in the second to tie it. Mark Stone restored the lead for Vegas with 2:40 left in the period, then Dylan Strome got it right back for the Blackhawks 13.6 seconds before intermission.
”I think we played a better team game today,” said Strome, who hit the crossbar early in overtime. ”We did a good job of holding their forwards up coming into the zone and giving our D a little more time. We’ve got to continue to do that and be ready for next game.”
Patrick Kane assisted on all three Hawk goals in the second period.
”I thought Chicago played really well,” said Lehner, who signed with the Blackhawks last summer and was traded to Vegas at the deadline. ”Everyone keeps saying they’re underdogs, but you look at their team, the experience, the skill – it’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out there. It’s a lot of skill and they’re world-class players, so when they get opportunities, it’s hard.”
NOTES—Rookie D Lucas Carlsson made his Stanley Cup playoff debut, replacing Adam Boqvist on the Blackhawks blue line. … Stastny’s goal was his 23rd in the playoffs in his career, the most among Vegas players.
Game 3 is Saturday night.