Coach Peter Deborah was speechless when he walked into the dressing room of the Vegas Golden Nights on Monday after Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference Finals.
“I haven’t prepared anything to tell them tonight because I think we will lose,” he said.
The Golden Knights lost.
Next to the Dallas Stars Denis GurianovWith a goal of 36 seconds of overtime in minutes, his team won 3-6, trailing later and knocking the Golden Knights out of the postseason. Dallas advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000.
“We all think this is a futile opportunity,” he added Riley Smith, Golden Knight from the team’s first season in 2017-18. “In my career I have played this probably the best, most skilled team. Winning the Stanley Cup was one of our goals. We didn’t want any less of it. Definitely feel defeated.”
Entered the resumed NHL season with an eye on the Vegas Cup. The Golden Knights were first in the Pacific division. They aggressively increased their roster during the season, firing coach Gerard Gallant after a 24-19-6 start, hiring Deborah, who beat him in Game 7 of the opening round of the last postseason, and traded for the Los Angeles Kings defender. Alec Martinez And Chicago Blackhawks goalkeeper Robin Lehner On the deadline.
The Knights beat Chicago in five games in the quarterfinals, then eliminated the Vancouver Canucks – and brilliant goal-scoring Khachar Demko In the last three games of the series – with Game 7 victory in the semifinals. Being an odd-on favorite in the sports book to win the Stanley Cup, they advanced to the Western Conference finals against the Stars.
What went wrong?
“They scored on time. It was a tight series. Our team probably pushed it forward for 90 percent of them, but that’s what cost us: we weren’t scoring, and that was it,” Smith said. “In the last eight games it felt like we’ve been cursed around the net. Nothing goes inside.”
Dallas outscored the Knights 9-8 in a series played in Edmonton, Berberta, as part of a league bubble amid a colonovirus epidemic.
“This game, like the rest of the series, we couldn’t raise the next goal [the lead], “Said Deborah. In Game 5, the Knights Center Chandler Stephenson Scored at 8:14 of the first period on the breakway for a 1-0 lead. Smith fired a shot at the Stars’ goalsender Anton Khudobin Gave Vegas a 2-0 lead in the 15th second in the third period. The Knights led 10-2 in the playoffs with the first goal. Between the regular season and the playoffs, the Knights were 36-1-4 while moving forward after two periods.
But Dallas began to gain momentum in the third period, and that effort unfolded Jamie BenAimed at 9:54. Defenseman That Lindell Pass the puck from behind the net, and ignore that winger Alexander Radulov And Ben on the right, who shot the wrist to cut the lead in the adfet.
“There’s no panic in that dressing room. We’re an elastic group,” Ben said. “We challenge.”
The Stars led the game with Vegas Alex Cloth In the penalty box for tripping. Defenseman John Klingberg Got a shot through the traffic, saved Lehner, and Joel Kiviranta – whose hat-trick of overtime won Game 7 against Colorado in the semifinals – knocked home to tie the game at 16:13 of the third.
In overtime, the game turned out to be a crucial and unfortunate mistake from the rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud, Who tried to tie the running forward and accidentally sent him to the glass at 2:15 p.m., delaying the game. Gurianov picked up the series clinch a few moments later.
“I just feel horrible for the baby,” Deborah said. “It’s kind of a — — fine to start. I don’t understand that kind of penalty for deciding the game. But for that, he got nothing to hang his head on. He played his ass.” A bright future ahead of him here. Got it. “
In theory, so do the Knights. This is his second trip to the conference finals in three years of existence. They lost to Washington in the Stanley Cup final in their opening season. In addition to a few uncontrolled free agents – including Lehner, he is expected to return – the roster of the Golden Knights could be intact for a second run next season.
“The team’s goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and that’s right in that window,” Deborah said. “It’s Key’s toughest trophy to win. It’s an incredibly difficult way. We have to learn a few things about what works in the playoffs and how to make a run in the playoffs.”
That’s especially true for the team’s top offensive players. Dallas received production from stars like Ben, Radulov and the like J Pa Pavelski In series. The same could not be said for the Knights’ top scorers.
DeBore noted a moment in the third half of Game 5 after Dallas cut the lead to 2-1 and Vegas ahead and leading scorer Max Passioretti – which helped him in his last eight playoff games – could not convert the break-way opportunity.
It went beyond pacioretti. Smith’s goal in 11 games was his first. Linemate Jonathan Marshesault It was without a goal in the period. Mark StoneInjury Fighter in Game 5, who scored one goal in nine games.
“We never got enough of the next goal,” Deborah said. In the end, the lack of timely scoring cost the Golden Knights their most important goal.
“We’re not happy about losing in the conference finals,” Deborah said. “That wasn’t the goal when we got here.”
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