Golden Knights will play Wild in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs


The Vegas Golden Knights will play the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vegas (40-14-2) was second in the Honda West Division and will have home-ice advantage against third-place Minnesota (35-16-5) in the best-of-7 series.

Game 1 is at Vegas on Sunday.

“They’re a great team, we’re a great team, so it’s going to be a fun series,” Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno said. “When we play aggressive, we’re a big hockey team, a smart hockey team and we know how to play with that style and that emotion, and we just come out most times against them.”

The Wild were 5-1-2 against the Golden Knights this season but were outscored 24-23.

“We know, like you said, we’ve outplayed them a lot of times this season, and I think we know how to play them to be successful,” Minnesota forward Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We [have to] work together and be smart, and at the same time play aggressive. I think we play our best game when we play aggressive.”

The Golden Knights, who were 3-4-1 against the Wild, were led by forward Mark Stone with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) against them. Forwards Alex Tuch (three goals, three assists), William Karlsson (two goals, four assists) and Chandler Stephenson (two goals, four assists) each scored six points. Marc-Andre Fleury was 3-3-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .919 save percentage against Minnesota, and Robin Lehner was 0-1-1 with a 3.87 GAA and .884 save percentage.

Forward Kirill Kaprizov led the Wild with eight points (six goals, two assists) against the Golden Knights. Foligno scored seven points (three goals, four assists), and Eriksson Ek (four goals, two assists) and defenseman Jonas Brodin (two goals, four assists) each scored six points. Cam Talbot was 3-1-2 with a 3.26 GAA and an .898 save percentage against Vegas, and Kaapo Kahkonen was 2-0-0 with a 1.51 GAA, a .943 save percentage and one shutout.

“We just find that when you play good teams like that, great teams, you raise up your play a little bit,” Foligno said. “It’s emotional games against them. It’s always been fun, it’s always been back and forth and physical and heavy, so it suits us well.” 

Stone led the Golden Knights with 61 points (21 goals, 40 assists), and Pacioretty was second with 51 (24 goals, 27 assists). Marchessault (18 goals, 25 assists) scored 44, and defenseman Shea Theodore (eight goals, 34 assists) scored 42. Fleury was 26-10-0 with a 1.98 GAA, a .928 save percentage and six shutouts in 36 starts. Lehner was 13-4-2 with a 2.29 GAA, a .913 save percentage and one shutout in 19 starts.

Kaprizov, a rookie, led the Wild with 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists). Fiala scored 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists), forward Mats Zuccarello scored 35 (11 goals, 24 assists), and forward Jordan Greenway scored 32 (six goals, 26 assists). Joel Eriksson Ek was third on Minnesota with 19 goals. Talbot was 19-8-5 with a 2.63 GAA, .915 save percentage and two shutouts, and Kahkonen was 16-8-0 with a 2.88 GAA, a .902 save percentage and two shutouts.

The teams have never met in the playoffs.

Vegas, which qualified for the playoffs for a fourth straight season since entering the NHL in 2017-18, lost to the Dallas Stars in five games in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final last season.

Minnesota lost to the Vancouver Canucks in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season after failing to qualify for the 2019 postseason.

The series winner will play the winner of the series between the Colorado Avalanche (No. 1) and St. Louis Blues (No. 4) in the second round.

“There’s always those teams that you seem to match up well and are very similar hockey clubs,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “I don’t know the reason but, they’ve always, every game, certainly this year, have been real good games, real intense hockey games. It’ll be a lot of fun if that’s how it shakes out.” independent correspondent Jessi Pierce contributed to this report

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