As expected, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings got physical.
There were 127 hits combined, and it made for a heavy game. Which was perfectly fine with Will Carrier.
The Golden Knights’ forward was right at home banging bodies from the first shift until he took a questionable hit that forced him to the locker room midway through the third period in the Knights’ 1-0 victory.
Carrier, who recently returned to the lineup after missing 27 games with an upper-body injury against Washington on Feb. 4, shook off whatever rust he may have had. He was all over the ice making clean, hard hits.
He left with 10:01 to play after Kings defenseman Drew Doughty caught him in the head with his elbow as Carrier had the puck at the right faceoff circle in the Kings’ zone. Carrier, who played 8:49 in 13 shifts and had a team-high 10 hits, did not return. He was not made available to the media, and his status for Game 2 on Friday is uncertain.
“I thought it was a bad hit, but it wasn’t for me to decide,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said of Doughty’s hit. “The ref didn’t think it was a penalty.
“But I thought Will was outstanding while he was out there. He played an excellent game and had some hard, clean hits. He plays that kind of a game every night. Maybe he was a little more intense (Wednesday).”
Carrier and linemates Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek set the tone early. It was a check by Carrier on Christian Folin deep in the Los Angeles zone that kept the play alive and led to Shea Theodore’s goal 3:23 into the game. Nosek got Theodore the puck at the point, and Theodore’s wrist shot beat Jonathan Quick.
Carrier continued dishing out the hits. He nailed Doughty a couple of times, and the Kings were certainly aware of his presence.
“He had an incredible game,” Bellemare said. “He got us going tonight. That first shift, we wanted to throw the puck at the net, and then Will made a play which made us win the puck again and it goes in.”
Nosek said: “We did a good job keeping them under pressure and create some chances. Willie’s a great character guy, and he was great for us. I hope he’s going to be all right.”