Stanley Cup Final Game 1 live blog: Panthers vs. Golden Knights
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Stanley Cup Final Game 1 live blog: Panthers vs. Golden Knights

Jan 21, 2024

Welcome to Game 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights. Editor-in-Chief Bill Price was high atop T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to provide all the sights, sounds and action from Game 1. Here is his recap of Game 1, a 5-2 win by the Golden Knights.

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Well, that's it from Game 1 in Vegas. It was a wild affair that got a little testy with about four minutes left resulting in multiple penalties and game misconducts for Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk, but when all the dust settled the Golden Knights were 5-2 winners.

Florida nearly made it a 4-3 game with about two minutes left, but Adin Hill stopped Sam Reinhart on a breakaway.

Then Reilly Smith, another former Panther, iced the win with an empty-net goal.

A few things to remember: Vegas won Game 1 of the 2018 Cup Final against the Capitals and didn't win another game.

Florida was down 3-1 to Boston in the first round and had gone 11-1 since then.

But if you're Vegas, you could not have asked for a better start -- you showed that Sergei Bobrovsky was human, that you could shut down Matthew Tkachuk, and that Adin Hill is ready for the spotlight.

There was a big announcement near the end of the game -- with Vegas scoring two goals in the third period that means free tacos from Taco Bell for everyone.

It's a double bonus for Vegas fans.

Thanks for following along tonight and be sure to catch all the great postgame coverage from

This place is absolutely going bonkers right now after Mark Stone scored to make it 4-2 Vegas. Stone batted a clearing pass out of the air -- it was close to high stick and it was reviewed -- and beat Bobrovsky.

To make matters worse for Florida, due to the failed coach's challenge for high-sticking, Vegas got another power play. It was a bad giveaway from Florida that could seal its fate in Game 1.

There is 6:19 left in this game, but Vegas leads 4-2.

In what was my favorite part of the game presentation tonight was a bit they just did showing Toby Maguire doing that dopey dance from "Spider-Man 3" and then showing a guy in a "Spider-Man" costume in the crowd. I swear I saw that guy on The Strip today.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Stone bats puck to himself and scores

The home fans got a big thrill when Matthew Tkachuk was sent into his own bench by Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud.

They got a bigger thrill when Whitecloud scored with 13:01 left to give Vegas a 3-2 lead. Whitecloud was amazing during Stanley Cup Final Media Day on Friday, talking about how, when growing up, he didn't play hockey to become an NHL player, he just played hockey because he loved the game so much.

Amazing stuff.

Now it's up to Florida to answer and they will get a chance on the power play. This joint is hitting decibel levels I have not experienced. Amazing atmosphere.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Whitecloud finishes Barbashev's feed

The "O" word has been said a few times up here in the press box and other places. It wouldn't shock me, with the way this game has been going, that we will need more than 60 minutes to decide it. We have 17 minutes left in regulation and it's 2-2.

It's been a pretty even game with each goalie playing well. Having said that, I'm sure this will end in regulation (a little reverse psychology there). Actually, I'm rooting for OT as there is nothing better than overtime in the playoffs -- unless of course, you are a fan of either team, because then it's absolute torture.

The DJ just played a song called "Blow" by Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars. I'm hoping to run into Bruno at our hotel since he's playing the Park MGM this weekend. But not sure that would top Rosen's Rick Pitino sighting.

Ok, now it's "Guerilla Radio" by Rage Against the Machine. Great song. And if you need to know, I did not need Shazam for that one.

We are through two periods and it's all tied 2-2.

I'm officially pumped up as they just played "Shotgun Blues" by Volbeat, which is my favorite song from my favorite band. If you happened to be in Moon Doggies in Vegas on Thursday, you would have heard it blaring from the juke box. There was plenty of Volbeat and some big-time heavy metal with Brian Slagel of Metal Blade records and senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke in charge of the juke box.

And just as mention Slagel and Roarke, the DJ played what I thought was "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" by Judas Priest, but Shazam said something different.

I'm very confused. He just played "Moth Into Flame" by Metallica. And right after that, the Panthers tied the game on a goal right off the face-off by Anthony Duclair with 11 seconds left in the period. Up until then, heavy metal had been the Panthers' theme as they have hit the post about 4-5 times.

But they converted and now it's 2-2. I would mention the "O" word, but a lot of the writers who covered the Panthers-Hurricanes 4OT game in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final are here and they are still a little shell shocked.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Duclair ties game late in 2nd period

The Golden Knights have taken the lead on a point shot from Shea Theodore. So, in case you are keeping score at home, each Vegas goal tonight has been scored by an original Golden Knight.

Not surprisingly, this place erupted.

Surprisingly, one name that has not been called much tonight is that of Matthew Tkachuk. He's been in the mix physically, and hit a post, but has not been a big factor -- yet.

Each goalie is playing well, but Adin Hill is stealing the show. His stick save early in the second period could go down as an early turning point of Vegas wins this game. He's stopped 16 of 17 shots, and Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped 17 of 19.

It seems like Vegas is really starting to get comfortable out here, finding their stride. They also have to be getting a huge lift from this crowd, which is just nuts. Vegas leads 2-1 with 5:32 left in the second period.

We have our first Green Day song, aptly titled "Know Your Enemy." Maybe that could be dedicated to Tkachuk.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Theodore scores through traffic in 2nd

The score is still 1-1, the Golden Knights are making their push, but Sergei Bobrovsky is stopping everything being fired his way.

The crowd just got pumped up after rapper Lil Jon appeared on the video board. There are plenty of celebrities around town this weekend -- senior writer Dan Rosen said he saw legendary college hoops coach Rick Pitino working out in our hotel gym. I'm not sure if that's true, I just think Rosen needed a way to tell everyone he was in the gym.

And I saw Elvis this morning on The Strip. Not sure it was the actual Elvis, but he looked like him.

We are almost midway through Game 1 of the Cup Final and it's 1-1.

The second period has begun. The score is tied 1-1. It could have been 2-1, but Adin Hill just absolutely robbed Nick Cousins on the doorstep with a ridiculous stick save.

In case you're wondering (and I know you were), it's the same end of the ice where Braden Holtby made his remarkable save against the Golden Knights in Game 2 of the 2018 Cup Final.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Hill robs Cousins in 2nd period

While I urged everyone to get to a Vegas game, I would warn them to make sure they don't come here and try to drop a few pounds at the same time. Believe me, I have tried to be good, taking long walks each morning I've been here, but the food here is insane -- and I'm just talking about in the press room at the arena. There is pretty much a wall of candy. I mean, I don't want to be rude.

What's the line from "Airplane"? Looks like I picked the wrong week to try to lose weight.

After Vegas killed Florida's first power play, they went back on the power play with 3:33 left in the first when Panthers defenseman Josh Mahura took an interference minor. The power play followed a stirring performance by the Knights drum line.

Vegas had a good chance early in the power play when Mark Stone got in alone, but Sergei Bobrovsky made the save.

But just a few second later, the Golden Knights cashed in on a gorgeous goal from Jonathan Marchessault. I'm not sure if you know, but he once played for the Panthers (OK, that was a joke since that has been a major storyline heading into the Final).

What is no joke is this game, which is living up to the hype. Plenty of action, hitting, great goaltending and some big goals. If this first period is any indication of what's to come in this Final, we could be in line for an all-time classic.

Not surprisingly, this place is jumping again after the Marchessault goal.

And in case there are any skeptics out there who think this vibe is just because it's the Stanley Cup Final, well, they would be wrong. I attended a regular-season game in February 2020 and it was just as loud. This is a great fan base, a great scene and if you ever have a chance to get to a Golden Knights game, do it. It's 1-1 after a very entertaing first period. Now everyone can catch their breath for a few minutes.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Marchessault ties game at 1-1 with PPG

We have our first goal of the Cup Final and it's a short-handed one by Eric Staal. The Panthers were short-handed because Nick Cousins took a roughing minor, but with :51 left in the power play, Staal came in alone, deked behind the net and while attempting a wraparound, the puck deflected in off the stick of Vegas goalie Adin Hill. It has certainly quieted this crowd a bit.

The penalty by Cousins came after we had our first heavy metal song of the night -- "Live It Up" by Airborne (that was a Shazam special). It's fitting we get lots of metal tonight with heavy metal guru and Metal Blade records founder and big Golden Knights fans Brian Slagel in the house. Brian was a guest on the NHL Studios pregame show. The guy is a metal encyclopedia and an all-around great guy. Because of him, I've expanded my musical tastes and have gotten into some "Lizzie Borden" and "Armored Saint."

Well, right after the heavy metal music played we had our first skirmish (coincidence?) with Hill taking exception to some rough play in front of his net. Hill actually took a swing at Sam Bennett and then another at Cousins. But the Panthers cashed in on the short-handed chance and lead 1-0 with 9:00 left in the first period.

A pretty good bit in the arena after the goal was the big screen showing the clip of Joaqiun Phoenix doing the thumb's down bit from "Gladiator."

Now it's the Panthers to the power play with 8:18 left. Big moment early here.

Video: FLA@VGK, Gm1: Staal nets SHG on wraparound in 1st

If there were any question that Sergei Bobrovsky would be impacted by the nine days off, it was answered at 16:09 of the first period when he made a sharp glove save to rob Brett Howden, who had come in alone.

We are almost four minutes into the Cup Final and we've had our first appearance of "Blitzkreig Bop" by the Ramones. I wonder if those guys knew when they wrote that song almost 46 years ago that it would be more popular than ever in sports venues all over the world.

That was followed by "My Own Worst Enemy" by Lit, which the crowd sung after the song ended. As Nick Cotsonika said, it's a great song for Vegas, with lines like, "please tell me why, the car is in the front yard."

Ok back to hockey. We're scoreless with 13:25 to go in the first, but the action has been great, lots of back and forth. Each team has three shots on goal.

The puck has been dropped. The Golden Knights started the game with the line of Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier and Nicolas Roy matched up against Matthew Tkachuk's line, which also includes Nick Cousins and Sam Bennett. Stopping Tkachuk is priority No. 1 for Vegas and with the Golden Knights having the last change it will be interesting to see how they handle things.

During the first stoppage, there was a message on the video board for fans to "Get Loud." Not sure that is necessary. Just an FYI, I have my Shazam app at the ready in case I don't know any songs the DJ plays, which is a legit possibility.

If you had virtual rats on the ice on your pregame show Bingo card, congrats, you are a winner. Yes, there were "rats" on the ice - that's what the Panthers are famous for - and of course Knights and drummers coming from the ceiling. There was also a virtual dragon. Just a wild scene, but hey, it's the entertainment capital of the world, so why not.

But now it's hockey time, and we'll soon find out if the Panthers can keep rolling or if the nine days off since they last played will be a factor. As Michael Buffer just said in the arena, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble."

Things are just about ready to go. How do I know? I just saw members of the Vegas drum line on the freight elevator heading to their spots.

Also, they just let everyone in T-Mobile Arena know the pregame show will use haze, lasers, time travel and some other things fans should be aware of.

The crew is all over the arena. Me, Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Dan Rosen and Amalie Benjamin are in the main press box while Shawn P. Roarke, Tom Gulitti, Tracey Myers, Bill Douglas and Paul Delos Santos are in the auxiliary press box right next to The Fortress.

I'm sure this pregame show will be an all-timer. It's already off the hook with a pregame video featuring David Blaine and Katy Perry.

Warmups have begun. Of course the Golden Knights hit the ice to "John Wick Mode" by La Castle Vania. The bass could shatter glass and this arena is literally jumping. My water bottle is doing the same thing that glass of water did in "Jurassic Park" when the T-Rex was approaching. Yes, that loud, that deep of a bass.

The Wall of Distraction is in full force with showgirls and Marilyn Monroe imposters behind the glass where the Panthers are warming up. I think there is even a mime down there.

We are about 25 minutes or so from puck drop and this place is starting to fill up.

We are about 30 minutes from things getting started here in Vegas. The arena is slowly filling up, and the party is still going on outside with fans all over Toshiba Plaza. Remember, it's not even 5 p.m. out here, so it's still very, very hot outside, but the fans in Golden Knights and Panthers jerseys don't seem to mind.

But hopefully all the fans will be in their seats when the festivities begin, because it's hard to find a better pregame show than what goes on here in Vegas. I imagine we'll see a knight skating on the ice and some sort of panther. Who knows, maybe we'll see a few celebrities.

Funny moment earlier this afternoon - a guy and his son were walking toward the arena in Vegas jerseys. The son was wearing a Jonathan Marchessault jersey. As he walked by a woman in a Panthers Marchessault jersey, the woman laughed and told the kid, "Remember, we had him first."

The Cup Final is back in the Las Vegas, and this city is bursting at the seams in anticipation. There is always a party vibe in this town, but it's been off the hook ever since the Golden Knights punched their ticket to the Final on Monday. Of course, the Cup Final party started in Florida much earlier, with the Panthers having finished their sweep of the Eastern Conference Final on May 24.

Dealers in several casinos were wearing Golden Knights jerseys. Even the big chicken outside The Crack Shack --'s favorite chicken place -- was wearing a Golden Knights jersey today.

Not surprisingly, the pregame scene outside T-Mobile Arena was insane with Golden Knights fans arriving early at Toshiba Plaza for the festivities, which included a concert from Marshmello. I would say I know who Marshmello is, but that is misleading. I've heard of him, thanks to my kids, but apparently no one knows for sure who he really is because he is always wearing a mask that looks like -- wait for it -- a marshmello.

Anyway, it was an amazing way to start what I'm sure will be a magical night in Las Vegas and an epic Stanley Cup Final. Stay here all night for all the sights, sounds and highlights from inside the arena.