Vegas Golden Knights Secure Stanley Cup Championship in Game 5 Blowout

Posted on: June 14, 2023, 10:02h. 

Last updated on: June 14, 2023, 12:08h.

The Vegas Golden Knights obliterated the Florida Panthers, 9-3, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to clinch the 2022-23 NHL championship.

Mark Stone Stanley Cup
Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Image: AP)

The Golden Knights needed just five games in the finals to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, which they were able to do on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena in Sin City.

Unbelievable,” said captain Mark Stone. “The look in my teammates’ eyes when I got it, one of the craziest feelings I’ve ever had. I can’t even describe the feelings in my stomach right now. It’s everything you can imagine.”

The Panthers fell behind 2-0 in the series after dropping the first two games in Las Vegas. When the series shifted to South Florida for the next two games, the Panthers pounced and won Game 3 to cut the series deficit to 2-1. The Golden Knights responded with a big road victory in Game 4 before returning home to Las Vegas in Game 5.

Panthers star winger Matthew Tkachuk fractured his sternum during a collision in Game 3. Tkachuk was limited in Game 4’s loss and tried to play through the painful injury. He didn’t suit up for Game 5.

The Golden Knights didn’t squander an opportunity and waste a 3-1 series lead. They won the championship with a dominating victory in Game 5.

Golden Trip: Six-Year Journey to a Championship

The Golden Knights are a young NHL franchise that entered the league just six seasons ago. On Tuesday, they became the fastest expansion team in modern NHL history to win the Stanley Cup.

During an auspicious inaugural season, the Golden Knights won the Western Conference and qualified for the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. However, they were overmatched by the eventual champion Washington Capitals.

We waited a long time for that moment to come back,” said winger Jonathan Marchessault, one of six players from the original squad. “We wanted to make sure we cashed in this time.”

“That was a magical year in 2018,” said center William Karlsson. “We were close. But unfortunately, it didn’t go our way.”

Five seasons later, the Golden Knights were better prepared for a championship run. They had a much stronger team, winning 51 games and tallying 111 points in the standings to lock up the top seed in the Western Conference. They won the conference title by defeating the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, and Dallas Stars to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Golden Knights were a slight favorite at -130 odds heading into the final series. The red-hot Florida Panthers were +110 odds as the underdog.

The Panthers mauled everyone in their path during their surprise run to win the Eastern Conference crown. They upset the top-seeded Boston Bruins in the first round. The Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead when the Panthers rallied back with three consecutive wins to knock out the overall betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

The Panthers returned to the finals for the first time since 1996. Their maiden trip was a disaster when they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Jonathan Marchessault Wins Conn Smythe Trophy

Captain Mark Stone scored a hat trick in the 9-3 blowout. But teammate and winger Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smyth Trophy, which is the postseason version of the MVP.

Marchessault tallied 25 total points in the playoffs, with 13 goals and 12 assists, after not scoring a goal in the first-round series. In the Stanley Cup Finals, Marchessault scored four goals and added eight assists in five games against the Panthers.

I couldn’t be more proud of our team, our organization,” said Marchessault after he was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy. “Everybody stepped up at different times, and that’s why we’re winners.”

Marchessault, 32, becomes the first undrafted player to win the Conn Smythe since Wayne Gretzky. Marchessault is a former member of the Florida Panthers who joined the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft. He was one of just six players left over from the original squad. He led the team in goals during the regular season with 28.

Panthers Outscored 26-12, ‘Playoff Bob’ Absent

The Panthers stumbled into the postseason with a 42-32-8 record, but they peaked at the right time when the playoffs began. Teams rarely have a chance to win the Stanley Cup unless their goaltender gets hot in the playoffs. For the first three rounds, no one was hotter than two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.

Alex Lyon was the starting goalie for the Panthers in the first three games of the opening round against the Bruins. That’s before head coach Paul Maurice made a calculated decision to start the veteran Bobrovsky for the remainder of the series. Bobrovsky led his team to two overtime victories, including a series-clinching overtime win in Game 7.

Bobrovsky lived up to his moniker “Playoff Bob” with a 12-2 record entering the finals after leading the Panthers to an Eastern Conference title. However, he was a sieve once the Stanley Cup Finals began.

The Golden Knights lit up Bobrovsky in the finals, and the Panthers’ defense was unable to slow them down. The Panthers were outscored 26-12 in the finals. In three road games in Las Vegas, the Panthers were overwhelmed by a 21-7 margin.

On the other side of the ice, Adin Hill from the Golden Knights held the Panthers to 12 goals in five games. Hill was the third-string goalie at the start of the playoffs. Starter Laurent Brossoit suffered an injury in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers, and Bruce Cassidy tapped Hill over backup Jonathan Quick to start in Game 3.

Since the goalie change, Hill posted an 11-4 record with a .932 save percentage. Hill also made the best save of the finals when he robbed Nick Cousins with a stick save in Game 1.

2024 Stanley Cup Odds: Colorado Avalanche the Favorite

Oddsmakers at BetMGM released odds to win the 2024 Stanley Cup, and the Golden Knights are +1200 odds to repeat as champions. The runner-up Panthers are +2000 odds to win their first championship.

The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup last season, but their top skaters were banged up during the 2022-23 regular season. Oddsmakers think a healthy Avalanche could win a second title in three seasons. The Avs are +800 odds as the consensus favorite to win the Stanley Cup next season.

A Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens claimed the title in 1993. Heading into the 2023-24 season, there are two teams from the Great White North to keep tabs on. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers have identical +1000 odds to win the Cup. Both the Oilers and Maple Leafs will attempt to become the first team from Canada to claim a championship in three decades.

The Bruins won the Presidents Cup this past season with a record 135 points and 65 victories, but they were ambushed in the opening round by the Panthers. The Bruins are fourth on the NHL futures board to win the championship +1100 odds.

The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are right behind the Bruins to win the Cup at +1200 odds, which is the same number as the Golden Knights. All three teams are tied for fifth on the futures board.

The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning are both +1400 odds, and the Dallas Stars are +1600 odds to round out the top-10 favorites to win next year’s title. The Panthers are currently 11th on the futures board at +2000 odds.