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Golden Knights Stanley Cup champions | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Golden Knights Stanley Cup champions | Las Vegas Review-Journal


Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) hoists the Stanley Cup after their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing and captain Mark Stone holds up the Stanley Cup after winning Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Vegas Golden Knights mascot Chance the Golden Gila Monster flies a flag as DJ Steve Aoki performs outside T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, before the Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Golden Knights against the Florida Panthers, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) and right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) celebrate Hague’s goal during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights fans celebrate after Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) scored a goal during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) takes shot at Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during period 3 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights fans celebrate their team’s Stanley Cup win against the Florida Panthers outside of T-Mobile Arena, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) saves a goal attempt by Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) with Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) near during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
The Golden Knights pose for a team photo after winning the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates after scoring on Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Congratulations messages are displayed on marquees on the strip after Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup against the Florida Panthers, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Golden Knights players celebrate their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
The Golden Knights take the ice to face the Florida Panthers for period 1 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) takes shot at Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Florida Panthers center Nick Cousins (21) and Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) fall into Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) after Cousins took a shot on goal during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) and teammates celebrate his hat trick goal against the Florida Panthers during period 3 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
The Golden Knights players leave the bench in celebration of their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) scores on Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights fan Lincoln Utrecht, 7, center, throws confetti in the air before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas (7) is driven from the crease after a shot against Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) by right wing Reilly Smith (19) and defenseman Alec Martinez (23) during period 1 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
The Blue Man Group shoot streamers about the Golden Knights fans enjoying the music outside before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) skates with the Stanley Cup after his team defeated the Florida Panthers for the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final title at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
The Vegas Belles parade toward T-Mobile Arena before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61), center, celebrates with Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20), left, and Golden Knights center Brett Howden (21) after he scored a goal against Florida Panthers during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
The Golden Knights starting lineup takes the ice before facing the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates his hat trick goal against the Florida Panthers during period 3 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights players come out during introductions before the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) and right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrate a score over Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights fans celebrate their team’s Stanley Cup win against the Florida Panthers outside of T-Mobile Arena, on Tuesdayy, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy hoists the Stanley Cup after their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights fans celebrate a score over Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
DJ Steve Aoki performs for the Golden Knights fans outside before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights fans celebrate after Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) scored a goal during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar (55) slams Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) into the bench during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. Kolesar was charged with a minor penalty. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights fan Jourdan Lasko of Henderson with her homemade trophy with other fans outside before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) is taken down by Florida Panthers defenseman Josh Mahura (28) as the puck gets past Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates his goal while Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) watches during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Vegas Golden Knights Vegas Vivas cheerleaders march around before the Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) celebrates their victory against Florida Panthers with his teammates after the Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault hold the Conn Smythe Trophy after the Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) and teammates celebrate a goal against Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during period 2 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Fans celebrate the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup at the Water Street Plaza watch party on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Henderson. (Daniel Pearson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The puck gets under Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) for a Golden Knights goal while Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94), Knights center Ivan Barbashev (49) and Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) watch during the first period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
A Golden Knights fan holds up a Stanley Cup-shaped beer before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights center Ivan Barbashev (49) and defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) get the puck past Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) and teammate defenseman Brandon Montour (62) in period 1 of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) hoists the Stanley Cup after Golden Knights beat Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
People cheer as DJ Steve Aoki performs outside T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, before the Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Golden Knights against the Florida Panthers, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights center Ivan Barbashev (49) dives to take a shot on goal during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights center Jack Eichel holds up the Stanley Cup after winning Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) is congratulated by right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) and center Jack Eichel (9) after scoring on Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Fans celebrate the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup at the Water Street Plaza watch party on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Henderson. (Daniel Pearson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) is knocked backwards after scoring on Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Fans listen to music and get pumped up outside before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) is knocked into the bench by Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar (55) during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights DJ Michael Toast gets the fans pumped up outside before Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights players celebrate a score over Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) takes a break during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Michael Amadio (22) gats past Florida Panthers defenseman Josh Mahura (28) and Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) for a score during the second period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) poses with his family and the Stanley Cup after the Knights beat the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) saves the puck during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault celebrates with the Stanley Cup after his team won the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final championship against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing and captain Mark Stone poses with the Stanley Cup after winning Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights players, coaches and staff celebrate after their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone, left and right wing Reilly Smith, two of the original team’s players, hold the Stanley Cup together after winning Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) hoists the Stanley Cup after Golden Knights beat Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) kisses the Stanley Cup after their 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers following Game 5 winning the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images
Golden Knights players celebrate their victory against Florida Panthers after the Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto
Golden Knights players pose for a photo with the Stanley Cup trophy after their victory against Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @chitosephoto

The gold jerseys wrapped around Mark Stone as he came to the T-Mobile Arena bench.

The record announced crowd of 19,058 was deafening as hats hit the ice behind the Golden Knights captain. But all that mattered to the Knights was each other, as they pulled in for a tight embrace that was the purest distillation of the bond that brought the team to its ultimate goal.

Spurred by a hat trick from Stone, the group completed its journey to the pinnacle of hockey in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night. The Knights put in one of the best performances of the postseason to eliminate the Florida Panthers with a 9-3 win and become the seventh franchise in NHL history to win a championship in six seasons or less.

Gold streamers fell from the rafters as the team finished its six-year journey from expansion team to championship club by piling on top of one another by the glass behind its net. The Knights are the 21st active franchise to clinch a Cup, and they did it with depth, determination and a deep commitment to one another that will stand the test of time. Their reward is being linked forever, as their names will join the 3,489 already etched on hockey’s hallowed hardware.

Owner Bill Foley said “Cup in six” before his team even played a game. In year six, the Knights got it done.

“It takes an entire organization,” said right wing Jonathan Marchessault, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. “This is something we will always remember. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s definitely the best feeling in the world.”

The buildup

It felt more like a coronation than a game from the beginning.

The fans — who entered excited after a pregame concert from DJ Steve Aoki and a flyover from two F-15 and two F-35 fighter jets from Nellis Air Force Base — erupted before the first puck drop after a surprise from first-year coach Bruce Cassidy.

He started five of the Knights’ remaining six original members — Marchessault, left wing Reilly Smith, center William Karlsson, and defensemen Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore in their first potential Cup-clinching game.

The five, along with left wing William Carrier, helped a new hockey market fall in love with this team and this sport when the team started play in 2017. They helped their new city heal in the wake of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting by going on a magical run to the 2018 final.

The Knights lost that one to the Washington Capitals in five games. They wouldn’t be denied this time, after being bolstered for years by splashy and subtle moves from president of hockey operations George McPhee and general manager Kelly McCrimmon that turned them from plucky underdogs into a true juggernaut.

“I wish we would have done it the first year when this city really needed it after Oct. 1,” McPhee said. “But we stayed with it and kept making the hard decisions. It was never personal with anyone. It was just about making this team better if we could do that. And it worked.”

The domination

The Knights ended the postseason 16-6. They took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission after goals from Stone and defenseman Nic Hague, then left no doubt in the second.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad cut the Panthers’ deficit to 2-1 before the Knights responded. Defenseman Alec Martinez, Smith, Stone and right wing Michael Amadio scored to put the team up 6-1 by the second intermission. The Panthers, playing without injured leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk, had little hope of a comeback.

That allowed the crowd to start its celebration early. The fans got loud when left wing Ivan Barbashev scored to make it 7-1, then exploded when Stone answered two Panthers goals by finishing off his second-ever hat trick with an empty netter with 5:54 remaining. Center Nicolas Roy tacked on the final goal to give the Knights their most in a game.

“It’s why you play the game,” said Stone, who became the fourth player in NHL history with a hat trick in a Cup-clinching game. “You play the game to win, and we won. I was sitting on the bench with three minutes left just looking at each other (thinking), ‘We’re about to win the Stanley Cup.’”

The victory ensured the team never faced elimination in the playoffs and trailed in a series only once: After Game 1 against Winnipeg in the first round.

The Knights rolled because they never ran into an opponent that could match them forward line for forward line or defense pair for defense pair. Their depth was unparalleled, with 13 skaters scoring goals and 17 recording points in the final.

The players who pitched in included the original misfits, blockbuster additions Stone, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Jack Eichel, and under-the-radar pickups such as centers Roy and Chandler Stephenson, left wing Brett Howden and Amadio.

The Knights’ overwhelming numbers advantage helped them outscore their foes 68-33 at five-on-five in the playoffs. That’s the most goals scored and the best goal differential at that strength since the NHL began tracking the stat in 2009-10.

“We knew the team that we had,” said Eichel, who finished as the postseason’s leading scorer with 26 points in 22 games. “We had contributions from everyone. It was a pretty special run.”

The connections

It still took more than talent to get the team to its ultimate goal.

The Knights built unbelievable chemistry, creating an unbreakable sense of belief in their game and one another. They competed on the ice and off at all times. They passed out an Elvis wig and glasses to their player of the game after each win.

That bond showed up when the puck dropped every night. The Knights — who used the mantra “it hurts to win” this postseason — displayed their commitment to one another by blocking an NHL-leading 450 shots in the playoffs. Their 19.94 blocks per 60 minutes were also more than any other team.

That collective sacrifice is why this group was able to win together and bring Las Vegas its second major professional sports championship, after the Aces’ WNBA title in 2022.

It also made the Knights’ celebration sweet as they passed the Cup from player to player — with the six original members getting it after Stone — in front of their home fans before welcoming friends and family to the ice. They knew it took all of them to accomplish their ultimate goal. Now they’re tied together for all time.

“We were saying that to each other, ‘We’ll never forget this team now,’” Howden said. “This is going on the Stanley Cup. For us to be here now, it’s crazy.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

This content was originally published here.










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