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GAME 1 PREVIEW: LA Kings face Golden Knights in Las Vegas

From FOX Sports - April 10, 2018

6:30P: FOX SPORTS GO | LISTINGS | SERIES

With a surprising run to the Pacific Division title, the expansionVegas Golden Knightswere the feel-good story of the regular season in the National Hockey League.

Now the question is can they continue their storybook season in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The Golden Knights (51-24-7) host theLos Angeles Kings(45-29-8) in the first game of their best-of-seven first round series on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas will be playing a veteran Kings squad that has held up the hardware twice over the last seven seasons. But the Golden Knights have a goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-4, 2.24 goals against average) who was a key performer on three Stanley Cup champions in Pittsburgh, including each of the last two seasons, and have other veterans like forwardJames Nealwho made it to the finals last year with Nashville.

Both will be counted on to provide the kind of leadership that will be necessary to advance in the playoffs.

Its more intense, Fleury said of playoff hockey. Every little play matters. Every win matters. I think it makes the stakes higher.Its fun hockey. Fun to watch.

Real excited, Neal, who had 25 goals, said. Weve worked all year to put ourselves in this position, especially with home ice advantage. I think this city and this rink is going to be pretty crazy.

Vegas finished 29-10-2 at home, where it sold out every contest. But it will be playing a Los Angeles team that split the season series and won both ends of a key back-to-back against the Golden Knights in late February, winning 3-2 in overtime at the Staples Center on a Dustin Brown power-play goal after Anze Kopitar tied it with 10.8 seconds remaining, and then coming back the next night at T-Mobile Arena for a convincing 4-1 victory.

Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round One: LA Kings vs. Vegas Golden Knights

I dont even remember that, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told reporters. Thats a long time ago already. I know were not thinking about those two games. Were just thinking about the opportunity in front of us, and I know theyre not thinking about it either. Really has no impact on this series. Its a whole new series.

The Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the NHL in scoring with an average of 3.3 goals per game, have five players with 20 or more goals, led by centerWilliam Karlssons43, and will be playing a physical, hard-checking Kings team that ranked No. 1 in goals against (2.46) and penalty kill (85.0 percent) and has a goalie in Jonathan Quick (33-28-3, 2.40 GAA) who also has been the backbone of two Stanley Cup champions.

Doughty believes it comes down to all the little things to winning in the playoffs.

Blocking shots, throwing pucks at the net, Doughty said. (There are) a lot of crappy goals that go in during the playoffs. Thats just how it is.

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