Viva Las Vegas.
James Neal scored the go-ahead goal at the 14:23 mark in the third period and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2, to take a stranglehold on the Western Conference First Round Playoffs.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves and William Karlsson added an extra-insurance goal 21 seconds later as the Golden Knights took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"All the games have been close," noted Fleury about the three one-goal games in the series. "We're playing well and we're in good position, but we have to keep our foot on the pedal. Nothing is over.
Alex Iafallo opened up the scoring 13:14 into the first period thanks to a beautiful pass from Anze Kopitar. At first, Iafallo's shot appeared to have hit the crossbar and was not a goal, but after a review, the puck hit the white bar behind the crossbar at the far post.
Cody Eakin tied the game midway through the third period after a vicious offensive attack by Vegas. First, Colin Miller's shot hit the post, then Eakin's shot gets blocked and the rebound falls to Ryan Carpenter who slides it back to Eakin who buries it into the back of the net.
Eight minutes later, James Neal scored the go-ahead goal as he spun past Oscar Fantenberg along the boards and slid the puck through the five-hole of Jonathan Quick for the go-ahead goal.
"My little brother taught me that move," joked Neal after the game. "I had the ability to make a play on him [Fantenberg] so I just tried to get around him as quick as I could and get a shot off."
Seconds later, the Golden Knights took a commanding 3-1 lead after Jonathan Marchessault sent the puck to the boards behind the net after the faceoff in the Kings zone. Reily Smith raced to the puck and sent a blind backhand pass to the front of the net where Karlsson buried it for the insurance goal.
WILD BILL! WILLIAM KARLSSON STRIKES FROM THE SLOT AND VEGAS HAS SCORED AGAIN! IT'S 3-1 VEGAS!#GoKingsgo 1 - 3 #VegasBorn
(VGK Leads Series 2-0) pic.twitter.com/eo5zCwVZ0v— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 16, 2018
"Smitty [Smith] got a jump on it and he threw it blindly to me," said Karlsson of the goal. "I just had to shoot it really. It was a great pass and great awareness by Smitty. Beautiful pass!"
The Kings tried to claw back after Anze Kopitar tipped a shot from Fantenberg out of midair and into the net for the goal.
"We got scored on twice and we were chasing the game after that," Kopitar said of Game 3. "There’s nothing I can really say about that. We’re down, but we’re not out. There’s at least one game left to be played. We have to start with winning one and we’ll go from there."
The goal was the 21st of Kopitar's playoff career, surpassing Marcel Dionne for sixth on the Kings all-time playoff goals list.
Unfortunately for the two-time Stanley Cup Champions, it was too little too late as the Kings ran out of time and are now on the brink of elimination.
Jonathan Quick made 23 saves in the loss.
Two of the Kings top line defenders returned to the ice on Sunday in Game 3 as Jake Muzzin returned from an upper-body injury that saw him miss the last seven games and Drew Doughty returned from a one-game suspension.
Margot Robbie, David Beckham, Steve Carrell, Eric Stonestreet and Matthew Perry were just some of the celebrities in attendance.
The Kings will look to avoid elimination in Game 4 on Tuesday. Puck drop is 7:30PM PST on NBC Sports.
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