The Vegas Golden Knights clinched their first Stanley Cup after demolishing the Florida Panthers, 9-3, in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Vegas had a chance in their inaugural season to win the Cup, but they ultimately fell to the Washington Capitals in five games in 2018.
This time, they beat the Panthers in five games, and Las Vegas now has a pro sports title on its hands.
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Coming into this one, the Panthers were going to be without their star for the entire postseason in Matthew Tkachuk, who was unable to fight off an upper body injury after working in Game 4 following a hit by Keegan Kolesar in the game 3.
The Golden Knights quickly got off to a hot start in Game 5, and that was thanks to Mark Stone’s opportunity that he didn’t waste.
With 8:08 left in the first period, Stone stole a puck in his own zone and ran down the ice where he had a 2-on-1 opportunity in front of the Panthers’ net. His patience was key though, as he waited as long as he could and shot the top right rack over Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to get to the board first.
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That started the offensive attack for the Golden Knights, when Nicolas Hague scored moments later. It was only his second goal of the playoffs with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault assisting on the play.
However, Florida was able to immediately get back into play in the second period, with Aaron Ekblad simply throwing one into the net and the puck had eyes as it found the string past Las Vegas’ Adin Hill.
But the Golden Knights’ answer would be five unanswered goals, four of which came in the second half.
Stone was among them after Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith found the back of the net, while Michael Amadio also joined the scoring party in the second.
In the third period, Ivan Barbashev hit a jumper from Eichel for his seventh of the playoffs.
Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett would add to his career postseason goal total after getting past Hill with a pair of shooters, but he wasn’t going to make a big enough dent in the lead.
Golden Knights fans were celebrating in the third period, chanting “We want the Cup,” and they knew they were going to get it after Stone hit an empty net from their own backcourt. Later, Nicolas Roy added one more for good measure.
Eichel matched Stone’s three points for the Golden Knights late in the night. He was also the team’s assist leader during the playoffs, as he had a whopping 20 in his various series. He’s been everything Las Vegas has asked for since they traded him to the Buffalo Sabers last year.
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Also, for Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy, he was in the Stanley Cup in 2019 with the Boston Bruins, but the St. Louis Blues blew that opportunity in Game 7 on the road to winning it all.
The Bruins fired him before this season began, prompting the Golden Knights to bring his experience to Sin City. It was clearly the right move by Vegas.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the Panthers had quite a few playoff runs coming out of the Eastern Conference.
As the eighth and final seed in the East, they defeated the NHL’s best regular season team in terms of record, the Bruins, in six games. Then, they took down the Toronto Maple Leafs followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, all while still being the underdog.
They ran out of magic against the Golden Knights, but they certainly made for a fun story throughout this postseason.
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It’s always a party in Las Vegas, but these Golden Knights and their fans have something big to celebrate as the Cup stands proudly on T-Mobile Arena.