SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jimmy Hascup and Kevin Allen look at some dark horses that could make some noise this postseason, but ultimately it’s hard to bet against Nashville.
USA TODAY SportsVegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was strong again to improve to 3-0.(Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)The Vegas Golden Knights, continuing a season of surpassing expectations as an expansion team, are one win from sweeping their way to the second round of the NHL playoffs.To reach that point, they achieved a couple more firsts Sunday night — their first playoff road victory and first playoff rally — in a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings had high hopes heading into the game because they were at home and were getting defenseman Drew Doughty back from a one-game suspension.This game, like the first two in the series, was a goaltending battle, not surprising considering Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury has won three Stanley Cups and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick has won two.The Kings took their first lead of the series when Alex Iafallo buried Anze Kopitar’s cross-crease pass past Fleury in the first period.First lead of the series! 🙌…and can you please stop trying to wave off that goal, ref?IT. HAPPENED.#GoKingsGopic.twitter.com/VkbWNiHeZK— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 16, 2018Quick made that lead stand up until the third period when the Golden Knights finally beat him on a goal by Cody Eakin after the Golden Knights hit the post and had a shot blocked but kept persisting.🚀🚀🚀1-1! pic.twitter.com/eWlafXSGZT— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) April 16, 2018More: Bryan Bickell too busy to lament about MS ending careerMore: NHL playoffs loading up early with questionable hitsFleury helped the Knights survive Kings pressure with about eight minutes left in the third period.Then James Neal, who went to the Stanley Cup Final last season with the Nashville Predators, put the Golden Knights ahead 2-1 at 14:23..@jneal_18 gets the go-ahead goal. pic.twitter.com/RKYFi6kn8J— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 16, 2018Twenty-one seconds later, William Karlsson, the team’s regular-season leading scorer with 43 goals, picked up his first goal of this year’s playoffs as he was left alone out front and accepted a pass from Reilly Smith.That ended up being important because Kopitar scored with 2:04 left with Quick pulled.Game 4 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The Kings are one of four teams in NHL history to overcome an 0-3 best-of-seven series deficit. They did so in the 2014 playoffs against the San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights are the first NHL franchise to clinch a playoff berth in its inaugural season since the Hartford Whalers and Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. With a 51-24-7 record in the regular season, they also were the winningest expansion team in NHL history.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide