3 Keys: Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks, Game 3 of Western First Round

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No. 1 Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Blackhawks

8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN

Vegas leads best-of-7 series, 2-0

Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek could be out for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday.

Pacioretty (unfit to play) was in the lineup for Game 1, his first game since March 9, and was a minus-1 with four shots on goal in 18:08. The forward was not in the lineup for Game 2. Nosek, who replaced Pacioretty, did not return for the third period of Game 2 after scoring a goal and playing 9:23 through the first and second periods. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Teams with a 2-0 lead are 324-51 (86.4 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

Here are 3 keys to Game 3:

 
1. Leaning on Lehner

Goalie Robin Lehner hasn’t lost a game since being acquired by the Golden Knights on Feb. 24 in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who earlier that day acquired him from the Blackhawks. 

The 29-year-old is 4-0 in the postseason with a 2.39 goals-against average and .907 save percentage after going 3-0-0 for Vegas in the regular season (1.67 GAA, .940 save percentage, one shutout).

“[Lehner] can kind of just be himself because this organization lets you be yourself,” Golden Knights forward Mark Stone said. “It’s not just the management and coaching staff, but the players in the room make you feel comfortable from Day One. I think [Lehner] has done of good job of just being himself which isn’t always easy coming into a new team.”

 
2. Kane connecting

Patrick Kane had three assists in Game 2, when the Chicago forward played on a line with Drake Caggiula and rookie center Kirby Dach. The line accounted for four points (one goal, three assists) and eight hits, including five by Caggiula.

“I try to play a complementary role, create space, cause havoc in front of the net,” Caggiula said. “They make my job easier with their talent. We have a good blend of different skill sets on that line, hopefully we can build off that for the next game.”

Said Vegas coach Peter DeBoer: “I think Kane was at a different level [in Game 2]. I thought he was dangerous all night and when great players are like that, players they’re with are usually looking good.”

 
3. Stopping Smith

The play of forward Reilly Smith on a line with Jonathan Marchessault and center Paul Stastny has been one of the best stories for the Golden Knights during the postseason.

Smith, who was third on Vegas with 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists) in 71 regular-season games, leads the Golden Knights in playoff scoring with seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games. He scored his first overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 2, a 4-3 win.

 
Golden Knights projected lineup

Chandler StephensonWilliam Karlsson — Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault — Paul Stastny — Reilly Smith

Nick CousinsNicolas RoyAlex Tuch

William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

Alec MartinezShea Theodore

Nick HoldenZach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Patrick Brown, Dylan Coghlan, Oscar Dansk, Reid Duke, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Jon Merrill, Gage Quinney

 Unfit to play: Max Pacioretty

 
Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik KubalikJonathan ToewsBrandon Saad

Drake Caggiula — Kirby Dach — Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincatDylan StromeMatthew Highmore

Alex NylanderDavid KampfRyan Carpenter

Duncan KeithCalvin de Haan

Lucas CarlssonConnor Murphy

Olli MaattaSlater Koekkoek

Corey Crawford

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Collin Delia, MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, John Quenneville, Dylan Sikura, Philipp Kurashev, Nicolas Beaudin, Alec Regula, Nick Seeler, Kevin Lankinen, Adam Boqvist  

Unfit to play: None

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