DALLAS — — William Karlsson, William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault finally get another shot at the Stanley Cup Final, after the first one came so quickly for the Vegas Golden Knights.
They will return after making sure they didn’t need another game against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals.
Karlsson scored two goals and had an assist, while Carrier and Marchessault also scored for the Knights in a 6-0 rout Monday night of the Stars, who had extended the West finals to six games after losing the first three.
“We have worked hard as a group. That was the goal from the first year, to come back here,” Marchessault said. “Our best game is yet to come. That’s the mentality we need to have.”
Reilly Smith, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore were also part of that Knights’ inaugural 2017-18 season that ended in a cup final, when they won Game 1 against the Washington Capitals before losing four in a row.
“That first year was a whirlwind and maybe we took it for granted,” said Karlsson, who like Marchessault and Smith has played in all 83 of the franchise’s playoff games.
Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist for Las Vegas, which hosts Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Florida on Saturday night.
The Knights 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 Eastern final last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that started these NHL playoffs.
Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout, both against the Stars. The other was 4-0 in Game 3 last Tuesday, when the Knights were already one win away from clinching the series before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in Games 4 and 5.
“We kept them out most of the night,” Hill said. “It was probably my easiest game of the playoffs so far tonight.”
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. They already had 16 of their 29 shots and a 3-0 lead after the first half.
“It was definitely our best game of the playoffs and it came at the right time,” Cassidy said. “You don’t want to let a team come off the canvas. After getting a 3-0 lead, there was some talk about it.”
It was the most lopsided playoff loss for the Stars since the franchise moved south from Minnesota before the 1993-94 season.
“You just expect more from yourself in a game like this,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, the 38-year veteran who is still yet to win the Stanley Cup after 17 seasons.
The Stars got captain Jamie Benn back after his two-game suspension for a cross check to the neck area on Las Vegas captain Mark Stone early in Game 3. But Benn got only one shot into the net in his 12 1/ 2 minutes in and he was on the ice for two of Las Vegas’ first three goals.
The Knights led forever when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after a puck popped out from behind the net near three Dallas players. Carrier skated across the front of the box and put a backhand into the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights have scored in the first five minutes of a game.
Karlsson’s power play came midway through the first half to make it 2-0, and after a penalty that had probably prevented him from scoring.
Nicolas Roy fired a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and into the air behind the goalkeeper. Karlsson was charging into the box when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and knocked the puck out of play, drawing a delay of game penalty.
With the man advantage, Smith took a shot from the circle to the left, which Roy deflected to the front and then came off Oettinger’s extended skid before Karlsson hit the rebound. Karlsson’s franchise-record 10th goal for a playoff series extended the lead to 5–0 just two minutes into the third period.
“Really disappointed in our group the way our season ended,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “It was a case of Las Vegas going to another level.”
Oettinger was 3-0 as the Stars faced elimination in this postseason, including Game 7 in the second round against Seattle before stopping 64 of 68 shots in the past two games against the Knights. That was after Vegas scored 3 goals on 5 shots in the first 7:10 to knock him out of Game 3…Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in an NHL conference final or semifinal after being down 0-3, and the first since the Stars lost to Detroit in a Game 6 in 2008. Only two teams made it to a Game 7, and both lost: the New York Islanders to Philadelphia in 1975; and the New York Rangers to Boston in 1939.
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