On Tuesday night, for the first time in their franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights took home hockey’s most prized possession – the Stanley Cup.
Entering tonight’s game, the hometown Golden Knights held a 3-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final over the Florida Panthers.
The Knights didn’t let the opportunity to hoist the Cup in front of their home fans slip away. Vegas played their best game of the series tonight against Florida, defeating the Panthers 9-3.
Just six years after their inaugural season, the Knights became champions of the hockey world.
The Panthers were officially the last team to be eliminated from the Playoffs tonight. Two months after entering the postseason as the lowest ranked team — their historic run to the Stanley Cup Final came to an end in Vegas.
The improbable task of coming back from a 3-1 series deficit for the Panthers became even more challenging after they took the ice tonight without their best player, Matthew Tkachuk.
Tkachuk, who was clearly not himself in Game 4 — playing just 16:40 — was listed as a game-time decision by Panthers head coach Paul Maurice.
The Panthers leading scorer would miss tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by 22-year-old Grigori Denisenko — who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in tonight’s game.
Florida had their golden opportunity to take the first lead of the game in the first period after Vegas’ Keegan Kolesar was sent to the box for interfering with Sam Bennett.
On the power play, the Panthers were inches away from finding the back of the net — however Adin Hill’s last ditch effort to get a leg on the puck prevented Sasha bakov from giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Just seconds after Hill’s enormous save, the Knights would have an odd-man rush the other way — and their captain Mark Stone would find the back of the net, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead, while being short handed.
Less than two minutes after Stone broke the ice, Vegas would make their lead two. This would be the first of three goals on the night for Stone.
Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky initially made a huge stickless save with just his blocker. The rebound fell under Bobrovsky, but then poked free by a Knights’ player before Nicolas Hague found the back of the net.
Upon replay, it appeared that the whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line, however this didn’t change the outcome. The goal would count — Vegas went up 2-0.
The Knights took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Entering the second the Panthers needed an answer — and they got that quickly from Aaron Ekblad.
2:15 into the second, Ekblad took a quick shot from the top of the point, which beat Hill up high, getting Florida on the board for the first time in the game.
The Knights lead was now just one with alot of hockey to go.
Florida looked like they finally found their game in the opening eight minutes of the second period. The Ekblad goal ignited momentum in the team and the game began swinging in their favor.
The life that was quickly fed to the Panthers disappeared just as fast over the next six minutes.
Vegas flipped the switch, dominating puck possession in the offensive zone — which ultimately led to pure domination for the remainder of the period.
In the last 10 minutes of the period, Vegas would score the next four goals — taking a 6-1 lead to the final intermission of the season.
This monumental deficit would be far too much for the Panthers to overcome in 20 minutes.
Vegas would take the game 9-3, winning them the Stanley Cup in just five games.