For the third time in the first four years of their existence, the Vegas Golden Knights will be playing in the NHL’s semifinals.
They advanced on Thursday night, and eliminated the Presidents’ Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche, thanks to a 6-3 win in Game 6 of their Second Round series.
They will now play the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals and try to earn their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The NHL also announced that winner of that series will be awarded that Clarence S. Campbell bowl, while the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Islanders series will get the Prince Of Wales Trophy.
The #StanleyCup Semifinals are set.
In addition to a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, the winner of the @GoldenKnights vs. @CanadiensMTL series will claim the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, while the @NYIslanders and @TBLightning will battle for the Prince of Wales Trophy. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/l8tMHf1yaz
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 11, 2021
Thursday’s game caps off what was a wildly entertaining series featuring the league’s two best teams from the regular season that more than lived up to the hype. Vegas ended up winning four consecutive games to win the series after dropping the first two games, including a 7-1 rout in the opening game. It is the first time all season that Colorado dropped four games in a row.
Colorado opened the scoring just 23 seconds into the game on Thursday when Devon Toews scored on the first shot of the game. But that lead would be short-lived as Vegas responded on its first shot of the game when Nick Holden beat Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer on a long-distance shot from the blue line that Grubauer did not seem to be looking for. All of that would set the tone for the rest of the game.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Every time Colorado would score or seem to get any momentum and threaten to retake the lead, Vegas would always have an immediate answer.
There were two big moments that stood out as game-changing plays.
The first, obviously, was Alex Pietrangelo‘s goal in the closing seconds of the second period. It came just two minutes after the Avalanche had tied the game, 3-3, on an Andre Burakovsky goal and officially goes in the books as the game-winner. It was another goal that was started by a long-distance shot attempt by Vegas where Grubauer did not quite seem to be ready for it. The puck bounced off the end boards, right to Pietrangelo, who was able to bury behind Grubauer who struggled to get back into position.
That is Pietrangelo’s first goal of the playoffs, and a big moment for Vegas’ biggest offseason acquisition. It also came after he was penalized earlier in the game for delay of game (puck over the glass) resulting in a Mikko Rantanen power play goal that tied the game.
The other game-changing moment came midway through the third period when Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin had a wide open look with an opportunity to the game, only to have Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury come sprawling across the crease to get his arm on the puck. He followed that up by immediately stopping Nichushkin on the rebound.
William Carrier put the game away later in the third period, scoring the second goal of the game for Vegas’ fourth line.
Max Pacioretty added an empty-net goal.
This will be the fifth time in the past 10 years Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer has coached in the semifinals, and is trying to lead his third different team (New Jersey, San Jose) to the Stanley Cup Final during that stretch.
AVALANCHE VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (VGK Wins Series 4-2) – series livestream link
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
Game 2: Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2
Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Avalanche 1
Game 5: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)
Game 6: Golden Knights 6, Avalanche 3
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.