William Karlsson scored two goals and had an assist to help the Vegas Golden Knights advance to their second Stanley Cup Final with a 6-0 rout Monday night over the Dallas Stars, who had extended the Western Conference Final to six games after losing the first three.
William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each recorded a goal and an assist for the Knights while Jonathan Marchessault had one goal. Carrier, Marchessault and Karlsson were all part of the inaugural 2017-18 Knights season that ended in their Cup Final.
Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout – both taking place against the Stars during this series as he went 4-0 in Game 3 last Tuesday. The Knights were already within one win of clinching the series before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in both Games 4 and 5.
The Knights will face the Florida Panthers Saturday night in Las Vegas to kick off the Stanley Cup Final.
Vegas led the Western Conference in the regular season with 51 wins and 111 points. The Panthers completed a four-game sweep of Carolina in the East final last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that began this season’s NHL playoffs.
Instead of having to face a do-or-die Game 7 at home against the Stars, coach Bruce Cassidy and the Knights got off to another fast start and never left any doubt about the outcome of this series that included three overtime games.
The Stars got captain Jamie Benn back after his two-game suspension for a cross-check to the neck area of Vegas captain Mark Stone early in Game 3, but Benn already had a minus-2 rating without a shot after playing only 3:46 in the first period.
Vegas secured the lead when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after a puck poked from behind the net in the vicinity of three Dallas players. Carrier skated across the front of the crease and put a backhander in the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights scored in the first five minutes of a game.
Karlsson’s power-play goal midway through the first period made it 2-0, and after a penalty that likely prevented him from scoring.
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Nicolas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and popped up in the air behind the goalie. Karlsson was charging into the crease when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and swatted the puck out of play, drawing a delay of game penalty.
With the man advantage, Reilly Smith took a shot from the circle to the left, which was deflected in front by Roy then off Oettinger’s extended skate before Karlsson knocked in the rebound.
After Kolesar made it 3-0 in the first, and Marchessault scored his ninth goal in the second, Karlsson’s 10th goal of these playoffs – a franchise record – extended the lead to 5-0 only two minutes into the third period.
Oettinger was 3-0 when the Stars were facing elimination this postseason, including in the second round of Game 7 against Seattle before stopping 64 of 68 shots the past two games against the Knights.
That was after Vegas had scored three goals on five shots in the first 7:10 to chase him from Game 3, which was the only lopsided game in the series until the finale. Two of their three regular season game went to shootouts.
Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in a conference final or NHL semifinal after being down 0-3, and the first since the Stars lost to Detroit in a sixth game in 2008. Only two teams got to a Game 7, and both lost — the New York Islanders to Philadelphia in 1975; and the New York Rangers to Boston in 1939.
Vegas avoided a Game 7 at home against the Stars and former coach Peter DeBoer, who is 7-0 in do-or-die games, including the Seattle series finale two weeks ago.
DeBoer was Vegas’ coach for its only Game 7 wins — in the second round in 2020 against Vancouver and 2021 in the first round against Minnesota, but he was fired by the Golden Knights after they missed the playoffs last season for the only time in their short existence.
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