A third-period surge lifted the Golden Knights past the Panthers in Game 1

ESPN News ServicesJune 3, 2023, 11:17 PM ETI read for 1 minute

LAS VEGAS — Zach Whitecloud scored from long range just over 13 minutes into the game after Addin Hill made the best save of the playoffs to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in the Stanley Cup opener. final.

Whitecloud’s goal put Vegas ahead, followed by a crucial penalty kill and captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal that was reviewed and upheld for the high stick. That combination, along with Hill’s 31 saves, gave Vegas the lead in the series after a terrible opener between the Sun Belt teams that wasted little time getting used to big hits during the game and plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving.

Original Knights players Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore scored on Florida’s two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.

Back in the Finals in 2018, Vegas will try to avoid the same outcome when they defeated Washington in Game 1 and then lost their next four, failing to lift the trophy in its inaugural season.

The loss snapped a five-game hitting streak for the Panthers, who swept the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2nd round before sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

Florida also lost a road game for the first time when the Panthers upset the Boston Bruins.

Game 2 is Monday in Las Vegas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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