Fleury, Golden Knights beat Blackhawks for 3-0 series lead

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EDMONTON, ALBERTA – AUGUST 15: Nick Cousins #21 of the Vegas Golden Knights controls the puck in front of Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 15, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Golden Knights defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 to take a 3-0 series lead. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

EDMONTON, Alberta — Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots and the Vegas Golden Knights held off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series.

William Karlsson and Patrick Brown scored for the Golden Knights. Vegas is 6-0 in the postseason, having also won all three of its round-robin games in the preliminary round to take the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Only four teams out of 190 times has as a team come back to win a seven-game series after losing the first three. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs did it against Detroit in the Cup final, the 1975 Islanders against Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, 2010 Flyers against Boston in the quarterfinals, and 2014 Los Angeles Kings against San Jose in the first round.

With Games 3 and 4 on back-to-back nights, Vegas coach Peter DeBoer opted to start Fleury instead of Robin Lehner, who is 4-0 with 2.39 goals-against average this postseason.

Olli Maatta scored in the third period and Corey Crawford had 24 saves for Chicago, which beat Edmonton in the preliminary round.

Trailing 2-0, the Blackhawks turned up the pressure in the third period, and Maatta cut the deficit in half at 6:21 as the defenseman came up the left side and beat his former Penguins teammate Fleury.

Jonathan Marchessault had a chance to restore the two-goal margin with 8 1/2 minutes left, but Crawford stopped his try from the left side. Marchessault skated in across the front to try to knock in the rebound but Crawford stopped that, too, and smothered the puck.

Chicago pulled Crawford for an extra skater with 1:45 to go, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

Alex DeBrincat got a pass from Kane, skated in on the left side and missed wide left on a backhander 1:23 into the second period.

Crawford gloved a one-timer from straightaway by Nate Schmidt on a Vegas power play at 8:55 to keep it a one-goal game.

Fleury stopped a try by DeBrincat with 8:48 left in the period and then denied his try 25 seconds later. Crawford stopped a shot by Shea Theadore with 6:03 to go and smothered the puck.

Brown made it 2-0 as he slid in knocked the rebound of a shot by Alex Tuch past Crawford with 4:37 to go in the middle period.

After that goal, the Golden Knights didn’t get another shot on goal for the next 14 1/2 minutes.

Karlsson got Vegas on the scoreboard with a short-handed goal 4:12 into the game. After a turnover by Chicago’s Duncan Keith, Karlsson got a pass from Mark Stone, skated in on Crawford and beat him with a backhander from the right side top shelf.

Kirby Dach had a short-handed breakaway about 7 minutes in, but Fleury slid and made a right pad save. Fleury also denied a shot from the left point on a Chicago power play with 4:10 left in the opening period. Kane hit the right post with 1:53 to go with an open net from the right side as Fleury was out of position.

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