Fleury leads Golden Knights to historic sweep of Kings

Mark down another first for the Vegas Golden Knights, who became the first NHL team to sweep a playoff series in their inaugural season on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The Golden Knights contained Los Angeles throughout the series, winning four close games thanks to the stellar work of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Stunningly, the team that didn’t even exist a year ago seemed more ready for the postseason than the team with two Stanley Cup wins since 2012.

Fleury opened and closed the series with shutouts, bringing his career playoff shutout total to a league-leading 12. He drew from his extensive postseason experience of winning Cups with Pittsburgh to face down good scoring chances from some of the Kings’ top offensive players like Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, limiting Los Angeles to just three goals over the entire series. Fleury’s performance allowed Vegas to earn a series sweep with the fewest goals ever, scoring seven in total - two fewer than any other sweep in history.

Reilly Smith leads Vegas with three playoff points - all assists - continuing his role from the regular season as one of the team’s top playmakers. Smith set up former Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb for the only goal of Game 4 on Tuesday, sending a pass through the slot that a pinching McNabb one-timed past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick early in the second period. Fleury preserved the lead by getting his glove on a wrist shot from the slot by Kopitar in the third period for one of his 31 saves in the contest.

The Golden Knights might know their second-round opponent soon, as the San Jose Sharks hold a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Anaheim Ducks with Game 4 on Wednesday. Vegas, which has been notoriously tough to play in its own building all year, secured home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs by winning the Pacific Division, and the Golden Knights were 3-0-1 against San Jose in their season series, with two wins at home. It could be a little while before Vegas experiences its first playoff defeat.