Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill made 32 saves against the Florida Panthers in Game 5, helping to clinch the 2023 Stanley Cup on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Photo by Jenn G/Wikimedia Commons
June 14 (UPI) -- The Vegas Golden Knights became the fastest expansion team to win a Stanley Cup, beating the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 to clinch the series in five games. Forward Mark Stone scored three times in the series finale.
Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore totaled three assists apiece in Game 5 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Forward Reilly Smith logged a goal and assist in the lopsided finale.
"It's a crazy feeling," Stone told the team website. "It's the best feeling I've ever had in my hockey career. Other than getting married and having kids, this ranks up there pretty high."
Nicolas Roy, Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev, Nicolas Hague and Alec Martinez also scored in the win. Goaltender Adin Hill made 32 saves for the Golden Knights.
Jonathan Marchessault, who logged an assist, claimed Conn Smythe Trophy honors as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP. He totaled 13 goals and 12 assists this postseason.
"It's one of those things you work all your life for," Marchessault said. "I couldn't be more proud of our team. We battled all year and I'm so happy right now."
The Golden Knights, who played their first season in 2017-18, broke the Philadelphia Flyers' previous record as the fastest expansion team to win a title. The Flyers won the 1974 Stanley Cup in their seventh season, while the Golden Knights needed six years to hoist the historic hardware.
The Golden Knights also became the fastest expansion team overall in U.S. major sports leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) to win a title since 2001, when the Arizona Diamondbacks won a World Series in their fourth year as a baseball franchise.
Stone beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a shorthanded score 11:52 into Game 5 for the first goal Tuesday night. Hague doubled the lead less than 2 minutes later.
Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad scored his second goal of the postseason 2:15 into the second period, but the Golden Knights responded with five unanswered goals.
Martinez, Smith, Stone and Amadio netted second-period scores. Barbashev made the score 7-1 by beating Bobrovsky 8:22 into the third period. Forwards Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett followed with two unanswered goals for the Panthers, who could not overcome the large deficit over the final 11:30.
Stone and Roy scored the final two goals over the last 5:54.
Bennett and Reinhart also logged assists for the Panthers. Bobrovsky stopped 23 of 31 shots. The Panthers played without star forward Matthew Tkachuk. Panthers coach Paul Maurice told reporters Tkachuk sustained a sternum fracture in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The 2023-24 NHL season is expected to start in October. The 2023 NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 in Nashville.