LAS VEGAS (AP) Just before the most improbable of Stanley Cup Final in the most improbable hockey city around Florida Panthers T-Shirts Womens , Gary Bettman and Bill Daly put on a little show of their own.As lounge acts go, it probably wouldn’t play on the Las Vegas Strip. Then again, no one ever thought the Vegas Golden Knights would be playing on the Las Vegas Strip – and certainly not as late as Memorial Day.But play they did, in a wild 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals that officially ended with Elvis singing ”Viva Las Vegas” and the Golden Knights taking a 1-0 lead in the series.The greatest expansion team ever against a classic underachiever was already a story that has played well even among those who wouldn’t think of watching anything but playoff basketball this time of the year.But a thrilling Game 1 couldn’t have been scripted any better even if Bettman and Daly had spent their pre-game writing it instead of sitting in front of the media, sharing laughs and a few inside jokes. They completed each other’s sentences, and seemed to be having so much fun that they didn’t want to leave.And why not? They could have taken a victory lap outside the T-Mobile Arena and no one would have seemed to mind.They are the architects of NHL expansion, the gatekeepers who decide which cities are in the league and which cities must watch from the sidelines. They came up with the plan – hatched privately a decade ago – for billionaire Bill Foley to pay $500 million to put a team among the gamblers, degenerates and, yes, upstanding citizens of the city where fun never stops.They then made sure it would work, despite all the naysayers who said hockey would never catch on in the desert and certainly not in a city where there are a lot of other things to do than watch hockey players race up and down the ice.But even the top league execs didn’t expect this.”No one saw this coming,” Bettman said.They didn’t in New York, and they didn’t in Las Vegas. A generous expansion draft helped set the Knights up to be competitive, but competitive doesn’t mean scoring 109 points in the regular season and then going 13-3 in the playoffs.Competitive doesn’t mean taking the ice on Memorial Day with nearly 19,000 crazed Knights fans cheering them on inside the arena on the Strip and thousands more partying as the game unfolded on big-screen TVs outside.It was, as Bettman pointed out, 342 days since the expansion draft in the same arena. And what a 342 days it has been for not only the new franchise but a league that took a chance on Sin City when no other league would.Bettman and Daly rolled the dice that Las Vegas would raise the league’s profile and not just because it isn’t http://www.officialcoyotes.com/authentic...-larsson-jersey , well, Columbus or Ottawa.”We thought being in Las Vegas would give hockey a greater presence and make the game stronger,” Bettman said.The results, at least so far, show that bet paying off. Las Vegas has gone mad over the Golden Knights, and hockey is thriving in a town where most ice is made for drinks, not rinks.And the NHL is on a bit of a roll itself. The controversial decision not to halt play during the middle of the season for the Olympics paid off in increased attention for professional hockey and television ratings for the playoffs, while not nearly up to NBA levels, are up across the board.And so far no one has said a word about the evils of sports betting and how a major sports franchise can’t exist in a city that allows it.”This commissioner wasn’t scared by the things other sports leagues may have been scared about,” Daly said.No one, of course, could have expected a hockey team to help heal a city in the wake of the Oct. 1 massacre that killed 58 people just down the street from the hockey arena. But the Knights helped that cause, too, adopting the Vegas Strong name and honoring victims not only at the opener nine days after the shooting but at games since.The players – who call themselves the Golden Misfits – have also done their part, both on and off the ice.”They seem to be playing with the emotion of a higher purpose,” Bettman said.That’s one reason why the bookies had them favored to beat the Caps and win the iconic trophy before the first puck dropped in Game 1. So far they’ve not only run through every obstacle in their way, but smashed through them.Good times in Las Vegas Richard Panik Jersey , and good times for the NHL.Little wonder that Bettman and Daly couldn’t stop smiling.—-Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Pekka Rinne stopped 35 shots for his eighth shutout of the season and the Nashville Predators set a franchise record by earning a point in their 15th consecutive game with a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen scored goals 4:34 apart in the second period, and Filip Forsberg and Ryan Hartman sealed the victory by scoring in the final four minutes.The NHL-leading Predators improved to 14-0-1 in their past 15, and also extended their team-best road winning streak to nine straight.Rinne won his 11th straight to match his personal best in a stretch in which he’s allowed just 18 goals. The shutout was the 51st of his 12-year career and third in nine games. Rinne also improved to 40-9-4 in becoming the NHL’s seventh goalie to win 40 games in a season three or more times.BLUE JACKETS 5, BRUINS 4, OTBOSTON (AP) – Cam Atkinson scored 2:55 into overtime to lift Columbus to its eighth straight win, spoiling a splendid NHL debut for Boston forward Ryan Donato.Sonny Milano, Boone Jenner, Thomas Vanek and Artemi Panarin also scored for the Blue Jackets. Nick Foligno had two assists, and Vanek and Jenner each added one. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 34 shots.Atkinson cut in on the left wing and fired a wrister past Rask for the game-winner.Columbus moved into a tie with Philadelphia with 85 points, but the Flyers hold the tiebreaker for third place in the Metropolitan Division and the Blue Jackets hold the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.Donato had a goal and two assists for Boston, which moved a point behind idle Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic. Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Krejci also scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask finished with 20 saves.KINGS 4, WILD 3, OT.ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Jeff Carter scored his second goal of the game with 33.8 seconds left on the clock in overtime and Los Angeles recovered after giving up a two-goal lead.Tanner Pearson and Dustin Brown also scored for Los Angeles Womens Shane Doan Jersey , which has alternated wins and losses over its past nine games. The Kings pulled into a tie with Anaheim for third place in the Pacific Division with 86 points, and hold the tiebreaker over the Ducks.Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for the Kings, who appeared headed to a second straight loss until Brown tipped home a point shot from Drew Doughty with 46.5 seconds left in regulation. Doughty finished with three assists.Joel Eriksson Ek scored for the first time in 13 games with 2:31 left to give Minnesota the lead after trailing 2-0. Eric Staal added his 39th and Zach Parise had his second goal in three games for the Wild.Devan Dubnyk stopped 26 shots for Minnesota, which is in third in the Central Division, four points ahead of Colorado.PANTHERS 2, CANADIENS 0MONTREAL (AP) – Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season and 76th of his career to lead Florida.Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov scored to help the Panthers inch closer to a playoff position, pulling three points behind idle new Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has two games in hand on the Devils.Antti Niemi finished with 38 saves for Montreal, which was shut out for the second straight game and 12th time this season – including three against the Panthers. The Canadiens were coming off a 4-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday.COYOTES 5, FLAMES 2GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored twice late in the third period to lead Arizona.Max Domi also had two goals for Arizona, including an empty-netter with 21 seconds left, and had an assist on Ekman-Larsson’s tiebreaking goal. Richard Panik scored early in the second period for the Coyotes, and Antti Raanta stopped 42 shots.Dougie Hamilton had a goal and an assist, and Sean Monahan also scored as Calgary lost for the fourth time in five games. Mike Smith finished with 25 saves.Domi stole a pass in the Calgary zone and beat Smith to tie the score at 2-2 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the second period.Both teams missed several scoring chances in the third period until Ekman-Larsson put the Coyotes ahead with 3:41 remaining with his 100th career goal. He then had an empty-netter 2:04 later for his 13th of the season to double the lead.