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LAS VEGAS (AP) Marc-Andre Fleury has been the foundation for the Vegas Golden Knights‘ run to the Stanley Cup Final.Yet while he has a 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage Adidas Christian Folin Jersey , he’ll be the first one in the locker room to credit the defensemen in front of him.”It’s a team game – win as a team, lose as a team,” said Fleury, who looks to become the 11th goaltender in NHL history to have his name on the Cup at least four times – and the fourth of that group to win with multiple teams.”These guys are a big part of our success. We’re well balanced, we got some veteran guys, some younger guys, got some offensive guys, some defensive guys playing together. Those guys have been rallying all playoffs, trying to help me out, blocking shots and letting me see the puck, so it’s been a lot of fun.”The pairings of Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland, and Colin Miller with Luca Sbisa or Jon Merrill, have helped the Golden Knights become a very tight defensive team during the playoffs, something that will have to carry into Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena, on Monday against the Washington Capitals.Schmidt has developed into the team’s top defenseman after struggling to find consistent ice time in Washington last season, when he averaged 15:29 on the ice. The fifth-year pro leads the Golden Knights with an average 22:14 on the ice and brings a familiarity to the Final, having played with Washington’s top scorers Evgeny Kuznetsov (24 points) and Alex Ovechkin (22), who rank first and second, respectively, in overall playoff scoring.”I know a lot of those guys Adidas Erik Karlsson Jersey , I know what they like to do,” said Schmidt, who has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in the postseason. ”For what I want to do on the ice, it helps me and I think it helps our group as well that we’ve had success against them. But it’s a whole other type of animal this time of year.”The Golden Knights swept the regular-season series against Washington, winning 3-0 on Dec. 23 in Vegas and 4-3 on Feb. 4 in D.C.With five more Capitals have double-digit points – Nicklas Backstrom (16), John Carlson (16), T.J. Oshie (15), Lars Eller (13) and Tom Wilson (11) – Vegas will need one last big effort from a defensive group that has helped allow the second-least number of goals among playoff teams that have played 10 games.Washington coach Barry Trotz said he knows the Golden Knights have three dynamic duos that each feature one offensive guy who can skate and move the puck – that being Miller, Theodore, and Schmidt – paired with more of a traditional stay-at-home defenseman who isn’t afraid to get physical, block shots and slow the opposing team’s pace – such as Sbisa, Engelland, Merrill and McNabb.”But they still bring some offense, too,” Trotz said. ”They play 5-5-5 all three zones just as we talk about with the Capitals. Watch the TV, you see five guys in the picture, then you’re doing good.”Schmidt said using speed against them worked during the regular season, by moving their feet more than Washington did, and helping to develop plays in transition. But again, this is the Stanley Cup Final Adidas Adam Cracknell Jersey , and Schmidt said he knows Washington can skate well and will be a challenge.”I think another thing is just making sure you’re really disciplined against this team,” Schmidt said. ”You’ve got to make sure you stay out of the penalty box, keep Ovechkin off the power play and keep that unit off the power play.”To Vegas’ credit, however, it does have the fourth-best penalty kill in the playoffs, stopping 82.5 percent of the power plays it has seen. And, as Sbisa said, that circles back to Fleury and the chemistry that’s been built with the defensive pairings.”That bond is definitely there,” Sbisa said. ”You don’t have to worry about anything else, play it loose, play to your strengths and that’s what we’ve been doing as a group. The six Ds that are playing that night, they’re tight; we play as a three-man group (with Fleury). Flower’s a guy that doesn’t take too much credit for himself, even though he should, because he’s been that good and it’s obviously nice to hear stuff like that coming out of his mouth. But he definitely deserves all the credit here.”As a D-man, knowing that you have the best goalie in the world behind you, saving you when something happens, it makes a huge difference because it allows you to play your game. Praise has to go both ways.” TAMPA, Fla, (AP) — Rookie Jordan Binnington stymied the NHL’s highest scoring team and Brayden Shenn broke out of a goal drought for the surging St. Louis Blues.Binnington made 32 saves, Shenn scored with 58.2 seconds left in overtime and the Blues won their fourth straight game, 1-0 over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.St. Louis is 10-4-1 since the start of this calendar year. Binnington has played a prominent role Adidas Josh Jooris Jersey , going 8-1-1 with two shutouts since making his first NHL start on Jan. 7.“We’ve really come together as a team,” Binnington said. “We’re playing smart hockey, disciplined hockey. It’s just fun right now. I was just really excited when Schenner put that one home.”Schenn skated in from the left wing boards and beat Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win.“I owe these guys some goals,” said Schenn, who went 11 straight games without one. “Hopefully tonight’s a step in the right direction.”Vasilevskiy, who dropped to 9-0-1 this season following a loss, stopped 38 shots. The Lightning were coming off a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday night to Vegas. Tampa Bay has lost consecutive games just twice this season.NHL-leading Tampa Bay has gone 4-3-2 over its last nine games. The Lightning have been held to two or fewer goals in seven of those contests.“You score a bunch of goals and you give up a bunch of goals,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Now we’re not scoring, but we’re not giving anything up. So, at some point we’ve got to find a happy medium.”After Colton Parayko hit the post, Vasilevskiy stopped Schenn’s in-close rebound while on his stomach with 7 ½ minutes left in the first.Binnington got a piece of Nikita Kucherov’s shot off a faceoff midway through the second that also hit the crossbar. He also had an in-close save on Victor Hedman during a 2-on-1 early into overtime.“Fastest game all year we’ve played by far,” Schenn said. “They’re a fast team. We moved the puck quick. That’s the games that you want to be part of, those are fun.”Tampa Bay’s No. 2 ranked short-handed unit kept St. Louis off the scoreboard and had a quality scoring on each of three consecutive penalty kills in the second.The Blues outshot Tampa Bay 15-8 during the opening period, and 32-19 through two.“We had plenty of chances during the game and the goalie made some saves,” Cooper said. “Not a whole lot to complain about other than the fact the first half of the game we didn’t have that killer instinct to go to the net and shoot pucks as we did the second half.”St. Louis has outshot its opponent in 18 straight games, which is three away from the team record set during the 2001-02 season.Tampa Bay’s top-ranked power play went 0 for 2.NOTES: Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos was held off the scoresheet on his 29th birthday. … Blues C Ryan O’Riley had an eight-game point streak (four goals, 11 points) end on his 28th birthday. … St. Louis D Carl Gunnarsson sat out with an upper-body injury. … Tampa Bay RW Ryan Callahan was scratched for the second straight game and fourth time in five games.UP NEXTBlues: Start a home-and-home Saturday with Nashville in St. Louis. The teams then play Sunday in Nashville.Lightning: Host Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
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