The Vegas Golden Knights should be an incredible success story by any standard. They have got made the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs three times in their 1st four seasons after entering the NHL as an expansion team in 2017-18.
But their standard of success is the Stanley Cup, nothing less, and so there was nothing but disappointment after they were eliminated in a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre in Montreal on Thursday.
The Golden Knights, who lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18 and the Western Conference Last last season, tied the Colorado Avalanche for the most points in the NHL in the regular season (82), shedding the Presidents’ Trophy to them due to the regulation-wins tiebreaker (35-30).
They defeated the Minnesota Wild in seven online games in the Stanley Cup First Round and the Avalanche in six video games in the second round.
But then they ran into the Canadiens, who smothered them with team defense, stymied them with the goaltending of Carey Price and counterattacked with quick-strike offense.
The Golden Knights scored 13 goals in the series. Five came from forwards, and two originated from their top seven goal-scorers in the standard season. The power play went 0-for-15.
Stone pointed a single at himself, however.
Stone scored 61 points (21 goals, 40 assists) in the regular period, tied for 10th in the NHL in scoring. He had eight factors (five goals, three assists) in 13 games in the initial two rounds of the playoffs, then no points in six online games against the Canadiens.
Told Stone had been essential of himself, coach Peter DeBoer said, “Well, I’m not surprised he’s taking that on himself, but that’s not a load he needs to carry and definitely not alone.”
Smith and Max Pacioretty each had three points (one goal, two assists) in the series. Alex Tuch had two assists, Jonathan Marchessault one. Chandler Stephenson missed three video games with an upper-body injury and experienced one assist in three games.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury misplayed the puck late in the 3rd period of Game 3, leading to the tying objective with 1:55 to go. Instead of acquiring the series lead, Vegas went on to lose 3-2 in overtime and fall behind 2-1.
DeBoer said he sensed the Golden Knights made progress this season, but everything is on the table for the future.
The Golden Knights have come close to the Stanley Cup 3 x in four seasons. Now they have to find a way to go all the way.