The Vegas Golden Knights have notched their first ever 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 eventually fell to the Washington Capitals in five games in 2018.
This time around, the took down the Panthers in five games, and Las Vegas now has their second major title as the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces won their championship in 2022.
Coming into this one, the Panthers were going to be without their star all postseason in Matthew Tkachuk, who couldn’t battle through an upper-body injury after laboring through Game 4 following a Keegan Kolesar hit from Game 3.
The Golden Knights quickly got off to a hot start in Game 5, and that was thanks to Mark Stone’s short-handed opportunity that he didn’t waste.
With 8:08 left in the first period, Stone stole a puck in his own zone and sprinted down ice where he had a 2-on-1 chance in front of the Panthers’ net. His patience was key, though, as he waited as long as he could and sniped the top right shelf over Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to get on the board first.
That started the Golden Knights’ offensive onslaught, as Nicolas Hague scored just moments later. It was just his second goal of the playoffs with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault assisting on the play.
Florida was able to get back into it right away in the second period, though, with Aaron Ekblad just throwing one at net and the puck had eyes as it found the twine past Vegas’s Adin Hill.
But the response from the Golden Knights would be five unanswered goals, four of which came in the second period.
Stone was among them after Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith found the back of the net, while Michael Amadio joined the scoring party in the second as well.
In the third period, Ivan Barbashev smacked home an Eichel shot for his seventh of the playoffs.
Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett would add to their career postseason goals total after sniping a couple past Hill, but it wasn’t going to make a big enough dent into 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 potted an empty-net bomb from his own defensive zone. Later, Nicolas Roy added one more for good measure.
Eichel matched Stone’s three points for the Golden Knights at the end of the night. He was also the team’s assist leader throughout the playoffs as he had a whopping 20 through their various series. He’s been everything Vegas has asked for since trading for him with the Buffalo Sabres last year.
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 spoiled that chance in Game 7 on the road to win it all.
The Bruins fired him before this season began, which led the Golden Knights to bring his experience to Sin City. It was clearly the right move by Vegas.
Meanwhile, it must be pointed out that the Panthers had themselves quite the playoffs coming out of the Eastern Conference.
As the eighth and final seed in the East, they defeated the NHL’s best regular season team ever record-wise, the Bruins, in seven games. Then, they took down the Toronto Maple Leafs followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, all while remaining the underdog.
They ran out of magic against the Golden Knights, but certainly made for a fun story throughout this postseason.
It’s always a party in Vegas, but these Golden Knights and their fans have something big to celebrate as the Cup is hoisted with pride at T-Mobile Arena.