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Golden Knights complete sweep of Kings

AP

The Golden Knights want a Stanley Cup title to conclude their already amazing inaugural season in the NHL.

Vegas is on its way, beating the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Tuesday night and becoming the first expansion team in league history to sweep its first playoff series.

“All season long, I didn’t know any records about expansion teams,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “We just do what a regular team would, we just play the game and try to win. That’s it.”

Brayden McNabb scored against his former team in the second period and Fleury stopped 31 shots as the Knights finished off their fourth one-goal victory of the series. It was the goalie’s second shutout of the playoffs.

“I didn’t picture this happening, me scoring a goal against the Kings,” McNabb said, “but it feels real good to get this win and finish this series.”

The Knights poured into the net to hug Fleury at the final horn. Vegas fans in the crowd chanted the goalie’s name in celebration.

“We knew we were getting a superstar when we got him,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “He has playoff experience and he’s been a part of three Cups and he makes us better. LA put on the pressure on him but he was huge for us.”

The Knights became the second team to win their first four playoff games, joining the 1970 Pittsburgh Penguins.

McNabb scored from the right circle, beating Jonathan Quick’s glove, at 4:04 of the second for his first career playoff goal. The Kings left the defenseman exposed in last year’s expansion draft and the Knights snapped him up.

The Kings pulled Quick in the closing seconds, when Dustin Brown skated straight toward the net and just missed.

“That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s so close,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “It’s not like we were blown out of the water.”

Brown also hit the left post with 10 minutes to go in the third, typical of the close calls that failed to generate goals for the Kings in the series. They outshot the Knights 31-21 in the game.

“It was crazy in the final minute of the game. They were buzzing around,” Fleury said. “We had to keep pushing to the very end.”

Facing elimination, the Kings came out aggressively and outshot the Knights 14-8 in the opening period. Quick stopped two shots on goal during the only power play in the period when Adrian Kempe was sent off for hooking.

“I thought our hockey team got better through the series,” first-year Kings coach John Stevens said. “Tonight was our best game and created the most quality chances, just didn’t finish off.”

Quick made 20 saves and allowed seven goals in the series, but he and the Kings couldn’t duplicate the rally they pulled off in 2014. Los Angeles lost its first three games to the Sharks in the first round that year and went on to win the series and eventually the Stanley Cup.

“We just got knocked out of the playoffs. I don’t care what the score was,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “It’s a lot of disappointment in this room. We can’t forget how this feels.”

Vegas, the third expansion team since 1968-69 to clinch a playoff berth, awaits the winner of the series between Anaheim and San Jose, which the Sharks lead 3-0.

Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 2 (2OT)

In Columbus, Lars Eller scored 9 minutes into the second overtime and Washington beat the Blue Jackets to tighten up the first-round playoff series.

The Capitals won at Nationwide Arena after Columbus won the first two games — both in overtime — in Washington. It was the Capitals’ turn to prevail in OT, this time on the Blue Jackets’ home ice, to pull to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

On the winner, Eller tapped a rebound past Sergei Bobrovsky for his first goal in the playoff series.

Jets 2, Wild 0

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Mark Scheifele scored both goals for Winnipeg and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his seventh shutout this season, as the Jets took a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Scheifele scored with 28 seconds left in the first period and tacked on an empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining, pushing the Wild to the brink of elimination.

Devan Dubnyk stopped 26 shots for Minnesota, who played without star left wing Zach Parise because of a broken sternum suffered in Game 3. After a six-goal outburst in their last appearance, the Wild had trouble generating the same kind of relentless attack and simply couldn’t slide any pucks past Hellebuyck.

Now the series shifts back to Winnipeg, with Game 5 on Friday night.