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Rest does Knights well in Game 1 victory over Oilers

Updated May 3, 2023 - 10:56 pm

They said the rest was good for them, to cure some of the bumps and bruises, to get everything settled and everyone healthy for a difficult second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That was the consistent theme from the Golden Knights the past several days.

If Game 1 of this best-of-seven against Edmonton is any indication, those fresh legs did the Knights well.

They posted a 6-4 victory Wednesday night before 18,243 at T-Mobile Arena.

It was as expected six days after the Knights played their last game.

Fireworks and all.

Laurent Brossoit says it’s both nerve-wracking and exciting. That meeting the Oilers and a few of the best players in the world in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl allows him as a goalie to make his mark on a critical playoff series. That this is the ultimate of opportunities.

He took advantage of it.

“A collective effort from all our guys up and down the lineup,” Brossoit said. “We took it to them for 60 minutes. But we can’t get complacent. They’re going to make a push. They’re too talented not to.”

The Knights couldn’t have asked for a better start to the series. Literally.

They controlled those opening 20 minutes for the most part, even matching an Edmonton power play goal (yeah, the Oilers did it again and yet again later) with one of their own on a Mark Stone tip-in.

The Knights limited rushes from the Oilers. They forechecked well. Heck, they did that well all evening. They worked and worked. They made Edmonton earn everything.

It would have been about as good a beginning as they could have hoped until Draisaitl scored his second of the period — he would have all of Edmonton’s four goals — with just 10.3 seconds left.

But the Knights had set a tone from the jump, a much better one than just a one-goal lead insinuated.

They just kept answering with their own scores throughout. Ivan Barbashev did twice almost immediately after power-play goals from Draisaitl.

“A good game by us,” Barbashev said. “Stuck to the plan and got the win. It was a good response by the entire team.”

Switching things

It will all probably make Edmonton fans even angrier now that Game 2 was switched from Friday to Saturday.

Differing reports made their way from Las Vegas to Canada about why the original schedule for the series’ second game here was altered. The most popular two centered around the Florida-Toronto best-of-seven.

Some surmised the Panthers didn’t want to play a home game on the same day as the Miami Heat, who face the Knicks in Game 3 of their NBA playoff series Saturday. Even though the Florida-based teams compete in different arenas.

Others believe it had more to do with Panthers owner Vincent Viola, also a part owner in Forte, the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Either reason is ridiculous, and Oilers fans who got caught changing travel plans are rightly upset. Ones like the brother of Janine Ryan of Edmonton, who’s out at least $1,000. Ones like Dave Desjardins and wife Diane, season ticket holders for the Oilers.

“We were supposed to go home Saturday,” Dave said. “Had to change flights and now spend an extra night here and one in Vancouver. It will be well over $1,000 for everything. I’m damn upset. Once again, the big-money people win out.”

As for the Golden Knights and the switch, a team spokesman said the team had to provide “a handful” of refunds, but it had a minimal impact otherwise.

Hey, locals can find other ways to lose $1,000.

Just the beginning

The Knights said the rest was good for them, to get everything settled and everyone healthy.

They couldn’t have asked for a better start to a series that has the promise to be one of the more exciting in these playoffs.

Hold onto your skates, folks.

This thing could get wild.

Knights 6, Oilers 4.

And we’re off.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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