Defending champion Golden Knights beat Stars 3-1 to take 2-0 series lead home to Vegas

DALLAS (AP) — Noah Hanifin broke a tie with an unassisted goal late in the second period and the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights beat the top-seeded Dallas Stars 3-1 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

Hanifin was one of the three trade-deadline acquisitions for the Knights, the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Marchessault scored his second goal of the series, and his franchise-record 36th in the postseason while appearing in all 90 of Vegas' playoff games.

Jack Eichel assisted on Marchessault's goal and added an empty-netter. Logan Thompson had 20 saves in his second career playoff start.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Las Vegas.

In the Western Conference Final last May, the Knights were the top seed when winning the first three games against Dallas and eventually taking the series in six games.

After falling 4-3 in the opener of this first-round series, the Stars came out intent on setting a hard-hitting tone before the series shifted West.

Mason Marchment took defenseman Zach Whitecloud off his skates with a jarring hit behind the Vegas net only 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Knights captain Rob Stone ended up on the ice midway through the first period when it appeared that he was going to take a shot at Jason Robertson, who instead bowed up and delivered a body blow instead.

In the end, Dallas couldn't take down the Knights.

Hanifin's go-ahead shot came after Stars defenseman Esa Lindell blocked two shots in a row.

Robertson gave the Stars a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the series, on a power play with 3:13 left in the first period. His 10th career playoff goal was his eighth against Vegas.

After Eichel's shot went in the empty net late, Robertson broke his stick when he slammed it against the post.

The goal by Robertson came soon after Marchment whiffed at a loose puck that had popped off Thompson's glove, and another scramble in front of the goalie when Roope Hintz was denied twice.

The Knights got even with 1:51 left in the first period on a charge when Eichel made a move that Jake Oettinger bit on. The goalie slipped down and Marchessault had an open side of the net after getting a nifty pass.

Oettinger had 23 saves, including a sequence in the second period when he knocked away three successive shots by Shea Theodore.

After his first shot was blocked, Theodore gathered the loose puck and tried a backhander on which Oettinger made a sprawling save, lunging to knock away the puck with his extended glove. The Knights defenseman got the puck again, skated around a couple of Stars and his third shot went off the goalie who was still laying on the ice at the edge of the crease.

That was during a 4-on-4 period after a scuffle in front of Oettinger when his teammate Ryan Suter threw Anthony Mantha down and both got roughing penalties.

Thomas had a couple of close-range saves right after that.


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Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press