The Stanley Cup Finals got underway last night, and Game 1 did not disappoint. The Florida Panthers came ready to play, scoring the first goal of the night with Eric Staal scoring the first goal of the night to put the Panthers up 1-0. Anthony Duclair added a clutch goal with 10 seconds left in the 2nd period to tie the game at 2 heading into the 3rd period. However, Vegas flexed their muscles when it mattered most, outscoring the Panthers 3-0 in the 3rd period to earn a decisive victory in Game 1.
It proved to be a total team effort for the Golden Knights in Game 1. Five different players scored for Vegas, and only Jack Eichel had more than one assist. Combine that with Adin Hill saving 33 of the 35 shots against him, and despite it being tied 2-3 going into the 3rd period, it never really felt like Vegas wasn’t in control. That has to be upsetting for the Florida Panthers. They scored first and hit a clutch shot that seemingly shifted the momentum to them. However, not only was it not enough, but it felt like the Panthers still needed to do substantially more to seriously threaten the Golden Knights in this game. As we explained before the series, the Golden Knights are the better team, and showed it throughout the regular season. The Panthers have a lot to clean up, as they had more than double the penalty minutes as the Golden Knights did, and had half the takeaways the Golden Knights did.
At the end of the day, Game 1 was just the opening salvo. As expected, the better team prevailed in Game 1. However, the Panthers have shown that they have the resilience and fortitude to make a comeback when their backs are against the wall. Game 2 Monday evening will tell us a lot.