The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest franchise in the NHL have proven themselves serious contenders in the fight for the Stanley Cup after beating San Jose 3-0 in Game 6.
They now move on to the third round of the playoffs to face either the Nashville Predators or the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are leading their series against Nashville 3-2 with Game 6 set for tonight at 9:30pm.
The Knights are creating a feel good reality for Las Vegas during a time when tragedy is still fresh in the minds from the recent shooting that saw lives lost. Marc-Andre Fleury made twenty-eight saves and performed brilliantly as usual to earn his 4th shutout of the playoffs.
The Knights manage to be the benefactors of several bounces that help them take the win last night and move on to play the Western Conference Final Golden knights celebrate after winning series to advance to conference final. Commenting on last night, Bryan McNabb said,
“It’s a bit crazy thinking about it for sure, but we’re here to win. We’re not going to get caught up in we shouldn’t be here or whatever. We’re here to win.”
The Golden Knights pulled off what many might have through impossible in their first season as they signed players others felt no longer offered value. The Knights won 8 of their first 9 games and then went on to sweep the first round against Los Angeles and took the second round in 6 games.
They are the 3rd team in the history of the NHL to win multiple series during their first season. The only other teams to accomplish this was St. Louis in 1968 and the Toronto Areas (Maple Leafs) in 1918.
Las Vegas saw several shots hitting the posts, and one that bounced in that has to be viewed by video-replay to confirm it pasted the goaltender’s crease. It was the right mix of spirit, team tenacity and speed.
Commenting on the Knights performance last night, Marc-Andre Fleury said,
“We made ourselves a good team, we had great chemistry right from the start. We keep improving throughout the season. I feel like we’re using everybody in the lineup to get wins. That’s what’s made us successful.”
A large part of their success last night came at the hands of Fleury, who currently is now one shutout short of matching the record held by Chris Osgood. During the first round, he allowed only 3 goals and was instrumental in helping the team during overtime in the third game of its series against San Jose.
While Fleury was on top of his game, help was given from William Karlsson, who scored 43 goals during the regular season and was the one who gave the Knights the winning goal in overtime during game 3. Also lending a hand was Jonathon Marchessault who has earned 11 points in the post-season and the handling of the puck by the Knights 4th line had a big impact in keeping San Jose at bay and scoreless.
Defencemen Nate Schmidt said the team is enjoying the post-season and have all year stating,
”The guys have just been having a blast all year with each other. I think that we’ve done a lot more than we thought we were capable of, but we continue to set the bar to new heights with our group. We continue to just set new expectations for yourself. This group believes in each other and that’s more than anything you can ask for.”
The second period saw the Knights in control when Marc-Edouard Vlasic took control of the puck in the Knights end zone, sent to Reilly Smith at the blue line who then passed it to Jonathon Marchessault who was all alone out front of the net and sent the puck through the pads of Martin Jones.
As the second period came to a close, the Knights were leading 1-0, and San Jose looked destined to see a close to their post-season after the third period got underway and the Knights made it 2-0
Commenting on the loss, Peter DeBoer said,
“I think we had a couple of those that didn’t go in. That’s hockey. But Vegas deserves to be moving on. They played great. They finished the chances when they needed to and got saves when they needed to.”
The third round schedule will be determined once the winner of the Jets and Predators series is determined. With Game 6 set tonight, that could be earlier than Las Vegas might like and less time off to rest and prepare for the third round.