Florida Panthers vs. Vegas Golden Knights Recap JUN 13TH 2023

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Florida Panthers vs. Vegas Golden Knights Recap JUN 13TH 2023

The city that never sleeps has another reason to stay up all night.

The Vegas Golden Knights won the first Stanley Cup Final in team history on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, getting three goals from Mark Stone en route to a 9-3 victory against the Florida Panthers in the deciding Game 5.

Stone produced the first hat trick in the finals since Peter Forsberg accomplished the feat for the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

The Golden Knights lifted the Cup in just their sixth season of existence to become the fastest expansion team in NHL history to claim a title.

"I can't even describe the feelings in my stomach right now," Stone said while still celebrating on the ice. "Everything you can imagine. The grind of an 82-game season, four playoff rounds. .... You grind and you grind and you grind. At the end of the day, the last team standing, it's incredible."

Six other players scored goals for Vegas, Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore each contributed three assists and Adin Hill made 32 saves in another steady performance for Vegas, which outscored the Panthers 26-12 in the best-of-seven series.

The Knights' Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He tallied an assist in Game 5, giving him 12 for the playoffs to go with 13 goals. He tied for the league lead in postseason goals this year and finished one point behind Eichel's league-leading playoff point total.

"One night it's one guy, one night it's another guy," Marchessault said. "That's the mentality we have this year, just next man in has to do the job. We're a bunch of good teammates in that locker room and we're always happy for each other and everybody stepped up at different times. That's why, today, we're winners."

Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart each had a goal and an assist, Aaron Ekblad also scored and Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves for Florida, which was outscored 21-7 in the three games at Las Vegas.

"Appropriate congratulations to Vegas," Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. "They earned it. They were outstanding. We didn't have an answer for them."

The Panthers played without leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk in Game 5 because of a broken bone in his sternum/clavicle area. The injury occurred in Game 3, but he played through the pain in Game 4 at Sunrise, Fla., a 3-2 loss that put Florida on the brink of elimination.

Maurice said after Game 5 that three others were playing with broken bones, including Ekblad, who competed with a broken foot since the opening-round series against the Boston Bruins.

Maurice said some of the injuries could take four to six months to heal.

"We're going to have a hell of a time making the playoffs next year," he said.

Stone scored short-handed off a two-on-one breakaway to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead at 11:52 of the first period.

Bobrovsky made a save on Eichel's backhand try and then tried to lay on the puck in the crease, but it was poked out to Nicolas Hague, and Hague shot it into the net for a 2-0 lead at 13:41 of the first.

Ekblad cut it to 2-1 with a wrist shot from just inside the blue line at 2:15 of the second, but the Golden Knights answered with four straight goals before the end of the period.

Alec Martinez scored off the rush to make it 3-1 at 10:28, and Smith put away a between-the-legs pass from William Karlsson for a 4-1 lead at 12:13.

Stone scored his 10th goal of the postseason to extend the lead to 5-1 at 17:15, and Michael Amadio capped the barrage by scoring with two seconds left in the period to make it 6-1.

Ivan Barbashev scored at 8:22 of the third period before Reinhart scored 25 seconds later to trim Florida's deficit to 7-2.

Bennett gave Florida three goals in regulation for the first time in the series when he scored at 11:39 to pull the visitors within 7-3.

Stone secured the hat trick when he scored into an empty net with 5:54 left to make it 8-3.

Nicolas Roy finished off the scoring with 1:02 remaining.

"I couldn't be more proud of our team, our organization," Marchessault said. "We've grinded for a few years, and it's just unbelievable getting here."

Florida finished 0-for-14 on the power play in the series to become the first team without a power-play goal in the finals since the Detroit Red Wings in 1948.

--Field Level Media