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Robin Lehner to start for Golden Knights in Game 1 against Blackhawks

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What was expected has come true. Now it gets fun.

NHL: Western Conference Qualifications-Vegas at Colorado Avalanche Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

No one else was in the room where it happened. It was likely a one-person room with an easy decision to be made, and that’s what Peter DeBoer has done.

The Vegas Golden Knights will start Robin Lehner in goal for Game 1 of their first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, DeBoer confirmed. Marc-Andre Fleury will serve as the Vegas backup in the playoffs for the first time.

“It wasn’t what [Fleury] didn’t do — [Fleury] was great — it’s what Robin has done since he got here,” DeBoer said. “This isn’t a case of one guy not getting the job done, this is just one guy I think, from the time he got here, just being fantastic.”

Lehner and Fleury split Vegas’ last four games — the exhibition against the Coyotes and the three round-robin games — to which DeBoer said “tough decisions will be made” in regards to who starts the first game of the first playoff series.

Lehner started two of the round-robin games, winning against the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. His 32-save performance Saturday clinched the No. 1 seed for Vegas in the Western Conference.

Fleury also won both his starts, but made 12 saves on 16 shots against the Blues on Thursday, a 6-4 win over the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

As far as what DeBoer does beyond this game, that remains to be seen. He has rotated the goalies ever since Lehner was acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks at the deadline on Feb. 24; Lehner won his only three regular season starts with Vegas, posting a .940 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average. Lehner joined Vegas in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and a stretch of 11 wins in 13 games.

That run put the Golden Knights to third in points percentage in the Western Conference, setting them up in a position to be one of the final 16 teams. The second place team in the Pacific, the Edmonton Oilers, were eliminated in four games by Chicago in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

In other lineup news, Tomas Nosek will be a healthy scratch for Vegas. With Max Pacioretty’s return to the lineup, Chandler Stephenson has been bumped down to the third line, a line he is expected to center with Nick Cousins and Alex Tuch.

Cousins started training camp at fourth-line center, but his play in the past four games has called for this promotion. Nicolas Roy is expected to be the fourth-line center skating with William Carrier and Ryan Reaves.