Stars shut out top-seeded Golden Knights in NHL series opener


Los Angeles (AFP)

Anton Khudobin made 25 saves for his first NHL playoffs shutout and an efficient Dallas Stars team beat the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights 1-0 in game one of the Western Conference final on Sunday.

John Klingberg scored for third-seeded Dallas at 2:36 of the first period in the NHL's quarantine hub in Edmonton, Canada.

The Stars were effective in the neutral zone, preventing Vegas from generating offense on the rush.

In their own zone they were dominant, keeping the net-front clear and giving Khudobin plenty of room to see pucks.

"Mostly happy with the win," Khudobin said. "(The shutout is) a bonus I would say. Even if we win 2-1 or 3-2, doesn't matter. For me, the win is the most important."

Dallas was also a perfect four for four on the penalty kill.

"We came out of the gates strong," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "I know we only scored one goal, (but) we had lots of opportunities tonight and Fleury was outstanding for them as Khudobin was for us.

"That's Dallas Stars hockey."

Klingberg converted on Dallas' first shot of the game, from the high slot after captain Jamie Benn's initial attempt was blocked by Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud.

"We knew the start of the game was going to be important tonight and I thought our team came out with a good effort," Benn said. "We played on our toes tonight and found a way to get one early there, and I thought (Khudobin) made a lot of great saves, especially in the third period.

"We found a way to squeak it out."

In the second period, the Stars allowed just four shots on goal, and it was just goalie Marc-Andre Fleur's 24 saves that kept the Golden Knights within striking distance.

Fleury was making his fourth start this post-season and first since he made 28 saves in a 5-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 of the second round.

Robin Lehner, who started Vegas' other 12 post-season games, has three shutouts in his past six games, including a 3-0 win against the Canucks in game seven on Friday.

"I thought (Fleury) gave us the best chance to win tonight. He was fresh," Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said.

"He's played well against Dallas and he gave us a great game. I thought he was our best player. He gave us a chance to hang around when we didn't deserve to be in the game early."

Vegas will try to even the best-of-seven series in game two on Tuesday.

Klingberg says the Stars still have room to improve.

"We're not really happy with how we played in the third period," he said. "I think we gave them a little too much life in the third period, but we'll take it. We'll move on and we're up 1-0 (in the series)."