Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his 12th career playoff shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights became the first expansion team in the 100-year history of the National Hockey League to sweep a playoff series in its first season with a 1-0 victory over the host Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Ex-King Brayden McNabb scored the lone goal for Pacific Division winner Vegas, which won the best-of-seven series 4-0. The Golden Knights will play the winner of the San Jose Sharks-Anaheim Ducks series in the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs.
“It’s nice,” Fleury said of making expansion-club history. “Obviously all season we haven’t played to beat records and stuff. We always started to focus on the next game and try to win that game. Obviously this is awesome, you know, but it’s playoffs. It’s nice to win, but it doesn’t matter if it’s a sweep or Game 7. It’s just nice to move up to round two.”
It was the 66th career playoff victory for Fleury, a key member of three Stanley Cup championship teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He moved past Dominik Hasek into 11th place on the NHL’s all-time list for playoff wins for a goaltender.
Jonathan Quick stopped 20 shots for Los Angeles.
McNabb netted the first playoff goal of his career at the 4:04 mark of the second period. The score came after Fleury made a big save on Dustin Brown. Vegas then broke out on a three-on-two rush ending with Reilly Smith sending a crossing pass to McNabb, who fired a one-timer from the dot in the right circle into the upper right corner of the net.
The Kings pulled Quick with 1:05 remaining and had one good chance, but Brown’s shot from the slot went just wide of the right side of the net.
All four games were decided by one goal, including two games by 1-0 scores to begin and end the series. Another was decided in overtime, 2-1, as Vegas allowed just two even-strength goals in the series.
“It was a close series right from Game 1,” Fleury said. “They were all one-goal games, right? Again tonight till the end it was a close game. Happy that it’s over. Happy that we won with this group.”
Kings center Anze Kopitar, who had one goal and one assist in the series, said of his team’s playoff failure, “Our season’s done. Of course it’s frustrating.
“I don’t think it’s all (Fleury). Obviously you can’t win the series scoring three goals total. For sure give him credit. I think he was playing really well but we also had some chances that we didn’t score on. We just didn’t score enough goals.”
Quick fell to 9-5 in elimination games in his career.
–Field Level Media
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