Who would’ve thought that Ryan Reaves would be the answer to a trivia question? The longtime enforcer scored 13:21 into the second period to push the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in first season with 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The win helped Vegas win the best-of-seven Western Conference Final series four games to one.
The Golden Knights are the first team to book a place in the Stanley Cup Final in their first season since the St. Louis Blues did in 1967. The Blues were part of the six-team expansion Western Conference and one team would have to earn a spot in the final.
Here are three keys to the game.
Vegas Golden Knights Lead the Way
The Golden Knights once again led most of the way for a good portion of the game. Vegas made Winnipeg chase for most of the series. The Jets are a good team but playing from behind expends a lot of energy.
Players like Dustin Byfuglien logged over 27 minutes a game in the last three games of the series. Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice was forced to give his better players more ice time because it trailed. Vegas coach Gerard Gallant was able to cycle his four lines and have enough in the end.
The Jets have been able to pull off comebacks like they did in the series versus the Nashville Predators. However, the Golden Knights played great with the lead all series.
Vegas was able to rely on its fourth line much like the Tampa Bay Lightning did in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Everyone knows the Golden Knights can count on goals from their stars, but life is a lot easier when players like Reaves can add scoring.
Fourth-liners are usually the ones that can grind out games and win late faceoffs. Vegas was able to get unexpected offence from its grinders. It takes something from everyone to get a Stanley Cup.
It will be interested to see the chess matchups between the coaches with the battle of lines if Tampa Bay gets through to the final.
The May Flower
It was another great outing from “The Flower” to give Vegas the Clarence Campbell Trophy. Fleury has been fantastic throughout the playoffs. He’s made flurries of saves to keep the Golden Knights in games.
He has plenty of playoff experience and is a three-time Stanley Cup champion. Fleury has been through a lot the last few seasons, but he’s been playing some of the best hockey of his career.
The Flower is a blooming good goalie and gives Vegas a legitimate shot of bringing the Cup to Sin City.
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