Coach Peter DeBoer was speechless as he walked into the Vegas Golden Knights‘ dressing room on Monday after Game 5 of the NHL’s Western Conference finals.
“I didn’t prepare something to say to them tonight because I just didn’t think we’d lose,” he stated.
Lose the Golden Knights did.
Dallas Stars ahead Denis Gurianov‘s purpose at three minutes, 36 seconds of extra time gave his group a 3-2, come-from-behind victory and eradicated the Golden Knights from the postseason. Dallas superior to the Stanley Cup Final for the primary time since 2000.
“We all feel like this is a wasted opportunity,” stated ahead Reilly Smith, a Golden Knight from the group’s first season in 2017-18. “This is probably the best, most skilled team that I played on in my career. To win the Stanley Cup was our one goal. We didn’t want anything short of that. Definitely feel defeated.”
Vegas entered the restarted NHL season with its eyes on the Cup. The Golden Knights have been first within the Pacific Division. They aggressively augmented their roster through the season, firing coach Gerard Gallant after a 24-19-6 begin, hiring DeBoer, the coach who defeated them in Game 7 of final postseason’s opening spherical, and buying and selling for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner on the deadline.
The Knights eradicated Chicago in 5 video games within the quarterfinals, then outlasted the Vancouver Canucks — and the sensible goaltending of Thatcher Demko within the final three video games of the sequence — with a Game 7 victory within the semifinals. They entered the Western Conference finals towards the Stars because the odds-on favorites within the sportsbooks to win the Stanley Cup.
What went improper?
“They scored timely goals. It was a tight series. Our team probably outplayed them for 90 percent of it, but that’s what cost us: We weren’t scoring, and they were,” Smith stated. “The last eight games, it felt like we were cursed around the net. Nothing was going in.”
Dallas outscored the Knights 9-Eight within the sequence performed in Edmonton, Alberta, as a part of the league’s bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This game, a lot like the rest of the series, we couldn’t get that next goal to extend [the lead],” DeBoer stated. In Game 5, Knights heart Chandler Stephenson scored at 8:14 of the primary interval on a breakaway for a 1-Zero lead. Smith snapped a shot excessive on Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin to give Vegas a 2-Zero lead 15 seconds into the third interval. The Knights have been 10-2 within the playoffs when scoring the primary purpose. Between the common season and the playoffs, the Knights have been 36-1-Four when main after two durations.
But Dallas began choosing up the tempo within the third interval, and that effort manifested in Jamie Benn‘s purpose at 9:54. Defenseman Esa Lindell handed the puck from behind the online, and it deflected off of winger Alexander Radulov and proper to Benn, who snapped a wrist shot to reduce the lead in half.
“There’s no panic in that dressing room. We’re a resilient group,” Benn stated. “We enjoy the challenge.”
The Stars tied the sport with Vegas ahead Alex Tuch within the penalty field for tripping. Defenseman John Klingberg obtained a shot by visitors, Lehner made the save, and Joel Kiviranta — whose hat trick in extra time received Game 7 towards Colorado within the semifinals — slapped residence the rebound to tie the sport at 16:13 of the third.
In extra time, the sport turned on an important and unlucky mistake from rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who tried to bat the puck away from a racing Dallas ahead and by accident despatched it over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty at 2:15. Gurianov scored the sequence clincher just a few moments later.
“I just feel terrible for the kid,” DeBoer stated. “It’s such a s—ty penalty to begin with. For that type of penalty to decide a game just doesn’t make sense to me. But for him, he’s got nothing to hang his head about. He played his ass off. He’s got a bright future ahead of him here.”
In idea, so do the Knights. This is their second journey to the convention finals in three years of existence. They misplaced to Washington within the Stanley Cup Final of their inaugural season. Besides just a few unrestricted free brokers — together with Lehner, although it is anticipated that he’ll return — the Golden Knights’ roster could possibly be intact for one more run subsequent season.
“The goal of this team is to win the Stanley Cup, and they’re right in that window,” DeBoer stated. “It’s the toughest trophy in hockey to win. It’s an unbelievably tough road. We’ve gotta learn some things about what works in the playoffs and how to score in the playoffs.”
That’s very true for the group’s high offensive gamers. Dallas obtained manufacturing from stars reminiscent of Benn, Radulov and Joe Pavelski within the sequence. The identical could not be stated for the Knights’ high scorers.
DeBoer famous one second within the third interval of Game 5 after Dallas reduce the lead to 2-1 and Vegas ahead and main scorer Max Pacioretty — who had one help in his final eight playoff video games — could not convert a breakaway likelihood.
It went past Pacioretty. Smith’s purpose was his first in 11 video games. Linemate Jonathan Marchessault was with out a purpose in that span. Mark Stone, who battled an harm in Game 5, had one purpose in 9 video games.
“We could never get that next goal to get out in front enough,” DeBoer stated. In the tip, that lack of well timed scoring price the Golden Knights their most essential purpose.
“We’re not happy losing in the conference final,” DeBoer stated. “That wasn’t the goal when we came here.”