DALLAS — The Vegas Golden Knights will face the Florida Panthers for the Stanley Cup after eliminating, and absolutely dominating, the Dallas Stars in a 6-0 victory on Monday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
Vegas will host Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.
The NHL is guaranteed to have a franchise win its first ever Stanley Cup this postseason. It’s the second trip to the Stanley Cup Final for both franchises, as the Knights played for the Cup in 2018 and the Panthers back in 1996.
The Stars were eliminated after trailing the series 3-0 and rallying for two wins. Teams that take a three-games-to-none lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs now have an all-time series record of 202-4. Teams that hold that lead in the round before the Cup Final are now 48-0 all-time, with both the Golden Knights and Panthers adding to that total in their respective conference finals.
Vegas was frustrated after allowing the Stars back into the series with two straight losses and vowed to come out in Game 6 with a better effort. “Bring our best effort tonight, put it all out there and see where it takes us,” captain Mark Stone said before the game.
Game 6 started with a blistering pace with the teams trading chances. Vegas was able to quiet the home crowd by striking first. Forward Keegan Kolesar won a battle near the end boards, with the puck slowly sliding out to the slot. That’s where William Carrier found it and patiently waited out goaltender Jake Oettinger (23 saves) for his second goal of the playoffs at 3:41.
That marked the third straight game in Dallas in which the Knights took a lead within the first five minutes of the game.
The Knights made it 2-0 at 10:25 of the first period on a power-play goal from Karlsson. Stars defenseman Esa Lindell was whistled for delay of game but earned some style points for knocking the puck out of midair over the glass before it could bounce into an open net behind Oettinger. Reilly Smith‘s pass was deflected by Nicolas Roy over to Karlsson, whose shot from the left side beat Oettinger.
Kolesar made it 3-0 thanks to another strong play from the Vegas fourth line. Kolesar flipped the puck off the boards to Carrier as he entered the Dallas zone. Kolesar sprinted past a spinning Lindell and Carrier found him alone in front of Oettinger for a quick shot. Kolesar’s second goal of the postseason came at the 14-minute mark, leaving the Stars’ home building in stunned silence and Dallas coach Peter DeBoer staring at his bench, arms crossed.
Just like in Game 3, the Golden Knights built a 3-0 lead on the road in the first period.
The Stars got to their game a little better in the second, earning a power play just 4:03 into the period, but were unable to impact the scoreboard. Then at 10:25 of the second, Ivan Barbashev met a streaking Jonathan Marchessault, who slid the puck through Oettinger for a 4-0 Vegas lead.
Karlsson struck again at 2:06 of the third period, his 10th goal of the playoffs. Michael Amadio scored his third of the playoffs at 12:25 of the third as the rout continued.
Dallas entered the game with the momentum of two straight victories and the return of captain Jamie Benn, who was suspended after Game 3 for cross-checking Vegas forward Stone in the face.
The Stars rallied around the concept of extending the series long enough to have Benn return to the playoffs. They finished the series 0-4 with Benn in the lineup.
For the Golden Knights, who finished atop the Western Conference with 111 points, the trip to the Final comes after the team used five different goaltenders this season, after last season’s starter, Robin Lehner, had offseason surgery.
Laurent Brossoit started all five games of their series win over the Winnipeg Jets and the first three games of their series win over Edmonton. He suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3, leading to the 27-year-old Hill taking over as the starter.
Hill posted two shutouts in the conference finals, in Game 3 and Game 6 at Dallas.