In a season where the Vegas Golden Knights have surprised a lot of people, they just pulled off one of the biggest feats in NHL History. On Sunday night they became the first expansion team in US sports to reach the Finals since the St Louis Blues in 1968. History, however, is nothing new to the newest franchise in the NHL.
Another Fast Start For The Golden Knights
Leading 3-1 in the series, Vegas took to the ice in Winnipeg looking to quieten the crowd. In need of a win to keep the series alive, the Jets needed a fast start but once again couldn’t handle the Vegas intensity. Once again Vegas struck first. After killing the first powerplay of the night, Winnipeg shot themselves in the foot.
Hellebuyck failing to clear his zone on a routine play and the puck came to Josh Morrisey. Quickly pressed, Morrisey’s attempted clearance deflected into the low slot, it was the worst possible start for Winnipeg. Alex Tuch gladly accepted the gift.
It was all uphill from their for Winnipeg, but being on home ice should have been an advantage. However the early goal set the crowd back in their seats, and an eerie silence fell on the arena for most of the period. Josh Morrisey made amends for his earlier mistake and tied the game at 1-1 at 17:14 in the first.
A cagey second period was punctuated by a lone goal from Ryan Reaves as Vegas regained the lead.
Closing The Deal
As was so often the case this season, the Golden Knights didn’t need a second invitation to win the series. Despite being on the back foot for much of the 3rd period, they took only one penalty as they maintained their discipline. There was no way back for Winnipeg, who in the end, failed to find another way past Marc Andre-Fleury.
The Jets have had an impressive season as well and will look back on this season with fondness. A young, pacey, dynamic team, they were ranked 19th by pundits coming into the season. It’s possible that the Golden Knights experience helped them over the line, but the Jets have outperformed expectations all season.
Marc Andre-Fleury will enter his third Stanley Cup Finals on a high. Boasting an incredible 95% save pct, and a 1.68 gaa, Fleury will be looking for his fourth title, and first since leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the finals.