Knights beat Kraken, seal West’s top seed

Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Laurent Brossoit made 30 saves as the Vegas Golden Knights clinched the Pacific Division title and the Western Conference’s top playoff seed with a 3-1 victory against the host Seattle Kraken on Thursday night.

Reilly Smith, Alec Martinez and Chandler Stephenson scored for the Golden Knights (51-22-9, 111 points), who closed the regular season with an eight-game points streak (5-0-3). Vegas will play the Winnipeg Jets (46-33-3, 96 points) in the opening round of the postseason.

Jaden Schwartz scored and Philipp Grubauer stopped 16 of 18 shots for Seattle (46-28-8, 100 points), which had already wrapped up the conference’s top wild-card berth. The second-year Kraken will meet the Central Division champion, either the Dallas Stars (47-21-14, 108 points) or the Colorado Avalanche (50-24-7, 107 points), in their first playoff appearance.

The Avalanche close their season at Nashville on Friday, and Colorado would win the Central with a victory over the Predators.

Smith opened the scoring with a fluke goal at 9:56 of the first period on what was Vegas’ initial shot on goal. Seattle defenseman Vince Dunn took the puck behind his own net and tried a clearing pass that deflected off the hard-charging Smith’s skate and into the net.

Seattle tied it at 16:20 of the first. Schwartz scored on a one-timer from the left faceoff circle after taking a pass from Alex Wennberg.

Grubauer stopped Ivan Barbashev’s breakaway attempt in the final minute of the first period.

Vegas regained the lead on a short-handed goal by Martinez at 12:37 of the second while an extra attacker was on the ice with a delayed penalty coming up against the Kraken. Grubauer stopped the initial shot, but Martinez was there to poke in the rebound as the goalie’s stick was sailing into the corner of the rink.

Seattle’s Matty Beniers and Adam Larsson both rang shots off the right post in the second period.

Stephenson scored into an empty net at 19:22 of the third to clinch the victory.

Vegas forward Jack Eichel and defenseman Shea Theodore both returned to the lineup after injury absences. Eichel missed the previous two games, and Theodore was out for seven games.

–Field Level Media

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