The Vegas Golden Knights have made plenty of history so far this season, making the playoffs in their inaugural year, getting their first playoff win in their first game, becoming the first NHL, MLB or National Basketball Association expansion team to sweep a series in their first year, and now, advancing to the Western Conference finals thanks to a 3-0 win in a road Game Six against the San Jose Sharks Sunday night.
Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring, Nate Schmidt added an insurance goal that was only detectable by replay and Cody Eakin sealed it with an empty-netter to help Vegas become just the third team in National Hockey League history to win multiple series in its first season.
The Golden Knights join the Toronto Arenas (1918) and the St. Louis Blues (1968) as the only teams to make the finals either as an expansion team or after a merger.
Next up for Vegas is the Western Conference Final against either Winnipeg or Nashville. Coming off the three-goal barrage the Sharks put up late in Game 5, it was to be expected that the Golden Knights were going to have to withstand everything San Jose had in them to hang on to Game 6 and win the series.
San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said, "We probably needed to do a little better job in front of (Fleury)".
The tight defense and Fleury's stellar play in net gave the Vegas club the deciding Game 6 when Cody Eakin ended San Jose's season with an empty net goal at 18:09. He allowed just three goals in a first-round sweep against Los Angeles, posted shutouts in Games 1 and 6 against the Sharks and was also spectacular in an overtime win in Game 3. Fleury then rubbed the post in appreciation at the next stoppage.
"You get this far and you lose, it's disappointing".
There's nothing this team isn't capable of, and they know it. "That's something that's very hard to take".
Through five games, the Sharks have kind of played around with forward matchups, but they have consistently utilized their shutdown pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun against the Knights' first line.
Hertl was sent in on a breakaway at the 9:08 mark of the first period as the Sharks caught the Golden Knights on a line change. He was stripped of the puck by Reilly Smith, who fed a pass in front to an open Marchessault.
Defenseman Brent Burns agreed, adding it's unfair to qualify the Knights success with the expansion label.
Play went on for 25 more seconds before the buzzer rang, with the situation room in Toronto calling for a video review.
"I think if we had to do it over again, we wouldn't have [had our defensemen join the rush] so early in the third", Couture said. That quickly showed that the puck bounced off the post, off a piece equipment inside the net and out. His shot from in close slipped under Jones for his fourth goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 Vegas lead.
"I've never seen something like that happen where they blew the play dead". "It's a fine line". That's hockey. But Vegas deserves to be moving on.
"Obviously we didn't produce the way we wanted to, especially in the last couple of games", Kane said.
Jones may still be trying to figure out how Haula scored, as he threw the puck at the net from the goal line and it somehow slipped through to make it 3-0 midway through the second. They played great. They finished the chances when they needed to. Get the app and get the game.