Posted on: May 30, 2023, 11:25h.
Last updated on: May 30, 2023, 11:55h.
The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals to punch their ticket to the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals.
For the second time since 2018, the Golden Knights won the Western Conference and reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
The NHL awarded an expansion team to Las Vegas in 2016 under an ownership group led by Bill Foley. The Golden Knights joined the NHL at the start of the 2017-18 season. They made a huge splash and advanced all the way to the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team.
Despite an auspicious debut season and magical run in the 2018 NHL playoffs, the Washington Capitals defeated the Golden Knights in five games to win the Stanley Cup.
Golden Knights Almost Blew a 3-0 Lead
The Golden Knights won the first three games of the Western Conference finals and jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. The Stars rallied back with two big victories, including a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4, to stave off elimination and force a sixth game.
The Stars looked gassed at the onset of Game 6 and gave up three goals in the first period. Golden Knights left winger William Carrier scored 3:41 into the game, and Las Vegas never looked back.
William Karlsson scored his first of two goals of the game with a slapshot midway through the first period to put the Golden Knights ahead 2-0. Carrier assisted on the third goal, scored by Keegan Kolesar late in the first period.
Karlsson later added a second goal in the third period, notching his 10th goal of the postseason.
Vegas went to another level, and maybe one too many nights of us going to the well in an elimination game,” said Stars head coach Pete DeBoer. “That was our fourth. Vegas hasn’t played one yet. Every time you go into an elimination game, it takes a toll physically and mentally. It’s hard to fill that tank over and over again. I didn’t think there was a lot left tonight.”
Despite allowing seven goals in two losses against the Stars, Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill secured a second shutout in the series. Hill saved 23 shots in Game 6. He improved to 7-3 in the postseason with a 2.07 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
The Knights didn’t squander their 3-0 lead, and teams are now 202-4 in the NHL playoffs after beginning a series with a 3-0 edge.
First-Time Champ: Panthers or Golden Knights
The NHL will crown a first-time champion this postseason because neither the Florida Panthers nor the Vegas Golden Knights have ever won a championship.
The Golden Knights are the betting favorite to win the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals at -130 odds, according to DraftKings. Very few bettors expected the Florida Panthers would upset the Boston Bruins in the opening round, let alone win the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are +110 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
The Panthers will make their second trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. They advanced to the Cup Finals in 1996 but were denied their first title when they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Golden Knights made their first and only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in their debut season in 2018. They were denied a title by the Capitals and superstar Alexander Ovechkin.
The first trip was just kind of overwhelming,” said Karlsson, who was a member of the 2018 squad. “You’ve never been there before. Maybe you took it for granted a little bit back then. You realize that this opportunity doesn’t come around too often.”
The Golden Knights posted a 51-22-9 record during the 2022-23 season, winning the Pacific Division for the third time in their six seasons of existence.
They defeated the Winnipeg Jets in five games in the opening round of the playoffs. They lost Game 1 but won four games in a row to advance to the conference semifinal. In the second round, the Golden Knights needed six games to defeat the Edmonton Oilers.
In the Western Conference finals, the Stars and Golden Knights battled in three overtime games, including back-to-back overtime sessions in the first two games of the series at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday in Las Vegas with Game 1.