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 Stephenson — William Karlsson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — Paul Stastny — Reilly Smith
Nick Cousins — Nicolas Roy — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Unfit to play: Max Pacioretty
Blackhawks projected lineup
Dominik Kubalik — Jonathan Toews — Brandon Saad
Drake Caggiula — Kirby Dach — Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat — Dylan Strome — Matthew Highmore
Alex Nylander — David Kampf — Ryan Carpenter
Duncan Keith — Calvin de Haan
Lucas Carlsson — Connor Murphy
Olli Maatta — Slater Koekkoek
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