They called themselves the “Golden Misfits,” rallying around the fact they’d been considered expendable and were left available in the expansion draft that stocked the Golden Knights’ initial roster. These Golden Knights are misfits no more. On Tuesday, they became Stanley Cup champions.
A four-goal flurry in the second period — a spurt that included goals by former Kings Alec Martinez and Michael Amadio — and a hat trick by team captain Mark Stone led Vegas to a 9-3 rout of the scrappy but undermanned Florida Panthers at a joyfully noisy T-Mobile Arena to end the Stanley Cup Final in five games.
Fans roared and swirled rally towels as streamers dropped from the rafters at game’s end, singing “Viva Las Vegas,” the team’s victory song, at the top of their lungs.
The Golden Knights reached the 2018 Cup Final in their first season but lost to the Washington Capitals in five games. For the franchise fee of $500 million paid by owner Bill Foley, they were given generous terms in that expansion draft, but they deserve credit for changing that roster as needed over the years. After missing the playoffs last season, they fortified their numbers well enough to withstand extensive injuries, a strategy that paid off with the first championship in the franchise’s six-season history.
Injuries forced the Golden Knights to deploy five goaltenders during the regular season, including two-time Cup winner Jonathan Quick, who had been traded by the Kings to Columbus and was flipped to Vegas. Quick didn’t play at all during the playoffs, but throughout the Final he was the backup to Adin Hill, who was obscure before Vegas traded a fourth-round draft pick to get him from San Jose late last August but made a name for himself during the playoffs as Vegas defeated Winnipeg, Edmonton and Dallas.
Florida on Tuesday played without top scorer Matthew Tkachuk, who had an undisclosed injury that had limited him in Game 4. The Panthers made an improbable playoff run by upsetting Boston and Toronto and sweeping Carolina, but Vegas was too big, too physical and had too much depth for them to handle.
And so Quick and Martinez became three-time Cup champions, a rare feat.