LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the semifinals for the third time in 4 years — not dangerous for a workforce that has been round for less than 4 years.
(*6*) Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer mentioned. “That was real. A lot of talk about us being swept, being embarrassed, could we even win a game? We have a group with a lot of pride. They blocked out the noise and went to work.”
After shedding the primary two video games of the series, together with a 6-1 rout in Game 1, Vegas reeled off 4 straight wins. In doing so, the Golden Knights handed the Avs their first four-game shedding streak of the season.
Colorado, which edged out Vegas for the Presidents’ Trophy because the NHL’s prime regular-season workforce, has misplaced in the second spherical for 3 straight years.
“I’m going into my ninth year next year and haven’t won s—,” Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon mentioned. “I’m definitely motivated. It just sucks.”
The Golden Knights, alternatively, are having fun with the spoils as they proceed to rewrite expectations for an enlargement franchise.
“It’s so hard to get to this point,” DeBoer mentioned. “Everybody talks about winning the Stanley Cup, but I’m an Ontario guy. I’ve watched the Toronto Maple Leafs closely, I was drafted by the franchise. They haven’t gotten out of the first round in, what, 17 years now? And that’s a good franchise: well run, well coached. It’s hard to make the playoffs in this league, it’s hard to win a series. So what these men have accomplished, it’s unreal.”
But Vegas has set its sights a lot increased.
“We have built a winning mentality, we built a winning franchise, but at the point we’re at right now — we’re in Year 4, and we need to start winning Cups,” winger Jonathan Marchessault instructed ESPN on Wednesday. “I mean, yeah, it’s fine we made the playoffs four years in a row, but a Cup would be the only thing to bring us satisfaction.”
In the pivotal Game 6, Vegas had six purpose scorers, together with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who broke a tie late in the second interval for his first purpose of the postseason. Pietrangelo had taken a team-high 45 pictures in the course of the postseason earlier than he lastly received one previous Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. DeBoer known as Pietrangelo “the best player in the series, on either team.”
The Golden Knights additionally received as a result of their prime line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Chandler Stephenson successfully stifled Colorado’s star-studded prime line, that includes MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, from Game 3 on. By Game 5, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was pressured to break up his prime line, hoping to discover a spark.
“They’re Presidents’ Trophies winners, one of the best lines in hockey, one of the best players in hockey,” Stone mentioned. “They have a Vezina candidate, a Norris candidate, an MVP candidate. That’s a good team we just eliminated.”
The Golden Knights welcomed a full-capacity crowd of 18,000-plus, which DeBoer cited as a catalyst for the comeback.
“The advantage of the full rink in Game 3, 4 and 6, huge to our group,” DeBoer mentioned. “If we don’t have full capacity and the rink isn’t rocking for all of those games, I’m sure we’re playing a Game 7 on Saturday night.”
Instead, Vegas faces the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals, marking the primary time this season a United States-based workforce will play a workforce in Canada. The series additionally pits Pacioretty in opposition to the Canadiens, the workforce he previously captained. Pacioretty was traded to the Golden Knights in 2018 for a package deal that included Nick Suzuki, now certainly one of Montreal’s ascending younger gamers.
If Vegas wins its subsequent series, it’ll advance to the Stanley Cup Final, which it additionally did in its inaugural season.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Pietrangelo mentioned. “It’s a winning culture that was built here since the first year. Different guys have come in, but the culture stayed.”