LAS VEGAS (AP) — Adin Hill made the save of the playoffs — maybe of his life — in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.
If the Vegas Golden Knights go on to win their first championship in franchise history, it will go down as one of the biggest moments of their run.
Hill wrenched back in the crease and extended his stick to keep Florida’s Nick Cousin from scoring what would have been a surefire goal early in the second period. Hill got his blade in front of the puck just in time to keep the score tied, setting the table for his team to beat the Panthers 5-2 and take the series lead.
“I reached out my stick and was able to get a piece of it with my paddle,” Hill said. “Felt good.”
The save by the journeyman goalie-turned-starter was reminiscent of the stop made by Washington’s Braden Holtby in Game 2 of the 2018 final in Vegas. It became known as “the save” in Capitals lore after they won the Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Hill knew all about that save.
“Holtby, he had an unbelievable series,” Hill said. “He was part of the reason why the Capitals won that Cup, for sure — a big reason.”
Hill now has the opportunity to be the same kind of difference maker after making the save at the same end of the ice as Holtby five years earlier.
The crowd serenaded Hill with chants of “Adin! Adin!” and the Golden Knights scored on two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky minutes later to take the lead.
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy called it “an unreal save” and a “game-changer.
“We go down and get one at the other end,” Cassidy said. “You need those saves at key moments.”
Even from the other end of the rink, Bobrovsky acknowledged: “It’s a great save. He played great. He gave his team a chance to win.”
Hill is the second Vegas goalie to start in this playoffs, taking over when Laurent Brossoit was injured during the second round. The 27-year-old has since gone 8-3 with a 2.06 goals-against average and playoff-best .938 save percentage.
“I’m not too surprised,” teammate Jonathan Marchessault said in French. “He has been excellent since his playoff debut. Adin never gives up. He works hard. He has the same mentality as the team.”
After another excellent performance, Hill wasn’t even sure the save was the biggest of his career.
“Maybe timewise yes, considering we’re in the Stanley Cup Final,” he said with a chuckle. “But I feel like I’ve made other big saves, too.”
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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