Captain Mark Stone scored a hat trick and Nicolas Hague, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev and Nicolas Roy all added singles as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 on Tuesday to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Vegas defeated Florida in five games, capping off a 111-point season where it finished first in the Western Conference. It’s a spectacular accomplishment for the NHL’s second-youngest franchise, which won a title in its sixth year of operation.
Stone opened the scoring with a short-handed marker in the first period, looking off Jonathan Marchessault before stopping right in front of Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, roofing it for the 1-0 lead. Hague added an insurance marker in controversial fashion as Jack Eichel tossed the puck towards the net, where it was briefly buried. A whistle was heard and then Hague slammed it in. Upon brief review, the call was upheld.
Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad got his team on the board, beating Vegas goalie Adin Hill with a clean wrist shot from the point, but any optimism for a Florida comeback was short-lived. Martinez scored his second goal of the playoffs, taking a feed from Eichel and wiring a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky for a 3-1 lead. It was nine years to the day since Martinez scored the Cup-clinching goal for the Los Angeles Kings in 2014.
From there, the rout was on. Smith scored into an open cage, Stone added his second of the night, then Amadio got on the scoresheet as the Golden Knights held an insurmountable 6-1 lead entering the second intermission. Barbashev scored in the third period before Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett countered for the Panthers shortly thereafter with the result already in the balance.
Stone capped his hat trick with an empty-net goal with just under six minutes remaining in the final frame. Roy put an exclamation mark on the win with a tally in the final minute.