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Golden Knights defeat Jets, advance to Stanley Cup finals

By Connor Grott
In its first season of existence, members of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after having reached the Stanley Cup finals. Photo courtesy of <a class="tpstyle" href="https://twitter.com/GoldenKnights/status/998327244924817410">Vegas Golden Knights/Twitter</a>
In its first season of existence, members of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after having reached the Stanley Cup finals. Photo courtesy of Vegas Golden Knights/Twitter

May 20 (UPI) -- The Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup finals after closing out the Winnipeg Jets in five games.

The Golden Knights took a 2-1 victory Sunday at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, becoming the first expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup finals in its debut season since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues.

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Vegas did not trail Winnipeg in the final four games of the Western Conference finals, after a Game 1 loss to the Jets. That lead ran for a total of 240 consecutive minutes, either tied or leading the game, per ESPN Stats & Info.

"We call ourselves the 'Golden Misfits' for a reason," said Ryan Reaves, who scored the game-winning goal. "I think we're doing a good job of proving everyone wrong."

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Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch scored the initial goal in the first period to give Vegas a 1-0 lead. It was Tuch's sixth goal of the postseason and second in the series versus the Jets.

Vegas center Ryan Carpenter -- who was credited with the assist on the score -- had the puck bounce off his skate into an awaiting Tuch, who buried the chance.

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Late in the first period, Winnipeg center Bryan Little won a face off directly toward defenseman Josh Morrissey, who one-timed the puck past Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to even the score at 1-1.

Vegas, showing the depth which guided them all season, used a fourth-line shift led by Reaves to score the decisive goal in the second period. Reaves deflected a shot from defenseman Luca Sbisa to beat the post and Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

It was Reaves' first-ever goal for the Golden Knights after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline.

Fleury made 31 saves on 32 shots for a save percentage of .969. Hellebuyck saved 30 of 32 chances (.938 save percentage).

The Golden Knights await the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Washington Capitals Eastern Conference finals series, which saw the Lightning take a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

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The Lightning hold a 3-2 series lead with a potential series-deciding Game 6 looming at 8 p.m. Monday. A potential Game 7 is planned for 8 p.m. Wednesday in Tampa, Fla.

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