LOS ANGELES - The Golden Knights scored three straight goals in the third period to come from behind and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the first round series over the Kings.
Vegas entered the third period trailing 1-0 and stunned the Kings with a flurry of late goals Sunday night at Staples Center to win 3-2.
Cody Eakin scored his first goal of the playoffs to tie the game 6:10 into the final period after receiving a great pass from Ryan Carpenter. Carpenter corralled a loose puck in the slot and calmly dished it to Eakin, who fired it over a lunging Jonathan Quick.
James Neal gave Vegas its first lead of the game with a dazzling spin move around a defender before flicking the puck underneath Quick’s pads.
William Karlsson made it 3-1 with a one-timer from right in front of the net on a great pass by Reilly Smith from under the goal line.
The Kings would make it close with a deflection by Anze Kopitar that alluded Marc-Andre Fleury but the Golden Knights hang on for the win.
With the win Vegas takes a 3-0 lead in the series with a chance to complete the sweep Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Kings lead 1-0 after two periods
For the third time in as many games, Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick has been superb.
Quick has stopped all 17 shots by the Golden Knights and has the Kings ahead 1-0 after two periods at Staples Center.
Los Angeles has outshot Vegas 22-17 and nearly increased its lead to 2-0 if not for a spectacular pad save by Marc-Andre Fleury. Drew Doughty set up Tyler Toffoli in the slot with Fleury already down on the other side of the net, but Fleury was able to slide over at the last second to keep the puck out of the net.
Late in the period the Kings’ No. 1 ranked penalty kill came up big stopping a power play attempt for Vegas, and seconds later Jonathan Marchessault took a hi-sticking penalty with only one minute left in the period.
The mistake was out of pure frustration for Marchessault, as he whipped his stick around after receiving punishment from Doughty, who clapped in his face afterwards as he made his way to the penalty box.
For the second time tonight the Kings will start the period with a power play.
Kings lead 1-0 after one period
The Kings lead the Golden Knights 1-0 after the first period in Los Angeles.
Alex Iafallo opened the scoring by roofing the puck over a sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury after a great pass by Anze Kopitar.
Golden Knights’ defensemen Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb chased Dustin Brown behind the net, leaving Kopitar all alone. The veteran forward slid a pass across the crease to Iafallo, who hit it off the back bar so fast it was originally ruled no goal.
Los Angeles took it to the Golden Knights physically in the first 20 minutes, more than doubling them in hits (28-13) and scoring chances were at a premium.
Both teams finished the period with only eight shots on goal, and the best Vegas chance came on a rebound attempt right in front of the net by Alex Tuch by goaltender Jonathan Quick made the save.
The Golden Knights are looking to tighten their grip on the first round playoff series against the Kings tonight in Los Angeles.
Already leading the series 2-0 after back-to-back wins in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights and Kings face off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Staples Center.
Los Angeles will be getting star defenseman Drew Doughty back after he was suspended for game two following an illegal hit on Vegas forward William Carrier in game one. Doughty is third on the Kings with 60 points this season, and will be joined by fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin who hasn’t played since March 27 with an upper-body injury.
The Kings welcome the return of both after struggling mightily to move the puck through the neutral zone in Las Vegas. In 155 minutes of hockey they have only beaten Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury once.
The Golden Knights may also get a welcome addition to the lineup tonight, as David Perron will make his return after missing the last eight games with an undisclosed injury.
Perron is third on the team in points with 16 goals and 50 assists, and could inject offense into the struggling third line alongside Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter tonight. Tomas Tatar is a healthy scratch for the first time this postseason.
Vegas will need to play well to escape with a third-straight win. Los Angeles is playing with its back against the wall, in its playoff home opener, with a motivated Doughty returning.
Using historical data from every series in NHL playoff history, the Golden Knights would have a 98.1 percent chance to win the series if they take a 3-0 lead tonight. Of the 208 teams to fall behind 3-0 in a series only four have come back to win, so expect a desperate Kings squad tonight.
Prediction: Kings 3, Golden Knights 2
Playoffs record for predictions: 2-0
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-125, Total 5 minus-115 to the under
Golden Knights playoff record (2-0) (0-0 away)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Playoffs goal leader: Three tied (1)
Playoffs assist leader: Four tied (1)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2-0, 0.39 goals against average)
Los Angeles Kings playoff record(0-2) (0-0 home)
Coach: John Stevens
Playoffs goal leader: Paul Ladue (1)
Playoffs assist leader: Michael Amadio and Dion Phaneuf (1)
Expected goalie: Jonathan Quick (0-2, 1.17 goals against average)
Golden Knights expected game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith, and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban