Two teams that have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final during the past two seasons, each one coming up short, square off on Tuesday night when the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins face the Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas.
Both the Bruins, who lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the finals in June, and the Golden Knights, who fell in five games to the Washington Capitals in 2018, are off to 2-0 starts and among the favorites to be playing for the Stanley Cup again next spring.
Vegas garnered some revenge by opening the season with two convincing wins over the San Jose Sharks, who eliminated the Knights in seven games in the first round of last year's Western Conference playoffs.
Boston, which is opening the season on a four-game road trip that will conclude at Colorado on Thursday, followed up a 2-1 victory at Dallas with a 1-0 win at Arizona on Saturday.
"It's obviously a big win," center Patrice Bergeron said. "It's not easy to win in this league. We'll take it on the road, but we have room for improvement. It's the second game of the year."
"We still didn't play the way we can," Marchand said. "It's early in the year. We're a little rusty. We've got to be a better team than we've been. This wasn't our best game. We win. At the end of the day, that's all that matters this time of the year.
"It's a process. You're not going to win the Cup and make the playoffs the first two games of the year. It's a process, and we've been through it before. ... We'll go back to work again on Monday and focus on some areas where we can be better and hopefully be good in Vegas."
The Golden Knights cruised to 4-1 and 5-1 wins over the Sharks, jumping out to early 2-0 leads in the first period of both and scoring three short-handed goals in the two games. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped 55 of the 57 shots he's faced.
"It was a good start for us," said right wing Mark Stone, who leads the Golden Knights in points with a goal and three assists. "Those games are pretty easy to get up for. We've got to continue to build on what we've built. Overall, for the 120 minutes we've played this season, we've been pretty solid."
Boston has won three of the four previous meetings between the two teams and swept the two games played last season, winning 4-1 at home and 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena when David Backes beat Fleury in the sixth round of a shootout. Halak finished with 31 saves in that win.
"We know they're another real good team," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "I don't measure us against anybody else. We just play our game. Boston is a great team. We'll give it our best."
--Field Level Media