William Karlsson, William Carrier and Jonathan Marchesso finally get another chance in the Stanley Cup Finals after it went so quickly for the Vegas Golden Knights.
They’re coming back after making sure they don’t need another game against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Finals.
Karlsson had two goals and an assist and Carriere and Marcheso also scored for the Knights in Monday night’s 6-0 rout of the Stars, who extended their West finals streak to six games after losing their first three.
Reilly Smith, Braden McNabb and Shea Theodore were also part of that inaugural 2017-18 Knights season, which culminated in a Bowl Final win in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals before losing four straight.
“That first year was a whirlwind, and we may have taken it for granted,” said Carlson, who, like Marchessault and Smith, played in all 83 of the franchise’s playoff games.
Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist for Vegas, which hosts Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Florida on Saturday night.
The Knights led the Western Conference in the regular season with 51 wins and 111 points. The Panthers ended a four-game sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference finals last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest of the 16 teams in the NHL’s playoffs.
Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout, both against the Stars. The other was 4-0 in Game 3 last Tuesday, when the Knights were already one win away from wrapping up the series, before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in Games 4 and 5.
“We kept them out almost all night,” Hill said. “Tonight was probably my easiest game of the playoffs.”
Instead of facing a Game 7 at home against the Stars, coach Bruce Cassidy and the Knights got off to another fast start and never left the outcome of the series, which spanned three overtime games, in doubt. They had already made 16 of 29 shots and took a 3-0 lead after the first period.
“It was definitely our best game of the playoffs and it came at the right time,” Cassidy said. “You don’t want to let the team off the mat. There were talks about it after we went 3-0 up.”
It was the worst playoff loss for the Stars since the franchise moved south from Minnesota before the 1993-94 season.
“You just expect more from yourself in a game like this,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, a 38-year-old veteran still without a Stanley Cup after 17 seasons.
Keegan Kolesar finished @GoldenKnights score in the opening period.
Vegas is 5. -0 this postseason when leading after the first period. pic.twitter.com/U5XjwvJnbr
The Stars reinstated senior Jamie Benn following his two-game suspension for a cross-check on Vegas senior Mark Stone’s neck early in Game 3. But Benn had just one shot on net in his 12 1/2 minutes and went through. Ice for two of Vegas’ first three goals.
The Knights took the lead for good when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after taking a shot from behind the net around three Dallas players. Carrier skated to the front of the crease and fired a shot into the back of the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights have scored in the first five minutes of a game.
Nicholas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Ettinger’s glove and into the air behind the goalie. Karlsson was breaking into the crease when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and threw the puck out of bounds, delaying the game’s penalty kick.
With the man advantage, Smith fired a shot to the left from the circle that deflected in front of Roy, then Oettinger’s extended skate before Carlson tapped in the rebound. Karlsson’s franchise-record 10th goal of the playoff series extended the lead to 5-0 just two minutes into the third period.
“Real” is disappointed for our group for the end of our season,” said “Stars” coach Pete DeBoer. “It was a case of Vegas going to another level.”
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