LAS VEGAS — Golden Knights games have always been as flashy as any show on the Las Vegas Strip, the sword-fighting mascot taking the ice before what seems like a legion of players marching out through the mirrored entrance into the roar of the crowd.
If this team was ever going to win the Stanley Cup, it was going to do it with Vegas flash.
The Knights delivered just that from dazzling passes to Mark Stone’s hat trick to all-out goal celebrations, capturing the young organization’s first title with a 9-3 romp over the beaten up and exhausted Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Coach Bruce Cassidy, in a nod to the Knights’ brief history, started five of the original Vegas players known as the Misfits and put the sixth on the second shift. Cassidy sounded confident the day before the game that his team would play well, and it certainly did, blowing open a one-goal game in the second period to lead 6-1. The nine goals tied the record for the most in a Cup Final.
“Vegas, you certainly know how to throw a party,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the crowd. “What’s going on inside this arena and outside is incredible and a testament to what a great hockey market this is.”
Vegas closed out the series in five games to win the cup before a delirious franchise-record crowd of 19,058 at T-Mobile Arena that drowned out the pregame introductions of forward Jonathan Marchessault and goalie Adin Hill and cheered all the way through the final buzzer.
Marchessault, who ended the postseason with a 10-game points streak, received the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team, our organization,” Marchessault said. “Everybody stepped up at different times and that’s why we’re winners.”
Stone’s hat trick — with the third into an empty net with 5:54 left — was the first in a Stanley Cup Final since Colorado’s Peter Forsberg in 1996, also against the Panthers.
The Knights got the rest of their scoring from Nic Hague, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev and Nicolas Roy. Martinez’s goal in the second period came nine years to the day after he delivered the double-overtime goal in Game 5 to give the Los Angeles Kings’ the cup.
Hill came through with another strong performance with 31 saves that has quickly made him a Knights fan favorite, even earning “MVP! MVP!” chants in the third period. Jack Eichel, the eight-year pro playing in his first postseason, had three assists.
“This is what everyone dreams of,” Eichel said. “You come to an organization like this and the expectation is to win this thing. It’s a special place to play.”
As captain, Stone was the first to lift the cup before handing it over to the six Misfits to each get their turn skating with the trophy before handing it down the line to the rest of the team.
“Unbelievable,” Stone said. “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.”
Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett scored for Florida, and Sergei Bobrovsky was overwhelmed in another tough performance against Vegas — allowing eight goals on 30 shots on goal — after carrying Florida to the final. Missing from the lineup was star forward Matthew Tkachuk after playing injured in Game 4.
“It was a privilege for me to play with them and fight with them,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s definitely tough to lose that way and end the season that way. But we have done a fantastic job and I want to stick to that.”