NHL News

Golden Knights advance; Bowness blasts Jets

For the second time in three years, the Vegas Golden Knights are back in the second round.

The Golden Knights continued their offensive assault on the Winnipeg Jets with a commanding 4-1 clinching win in Game 5 of their first-round series Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. This will be the fourth time the NHL’s 31st team will play in the second round since it entered the league in the 2017-18 season, when it reached the Stanley Cup finals.

The Golden Knights closed out the series following the same formula they used after losing Game 1: They grounded the Jets on the tarmac.

Chandler Stephenson scored his first of two goals to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. Captain Mark Stone doubled the lead, followed by a goal from William Karlsson before Stephenson grabbed his second to push it to 4-0 to end the second. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who started all five games in the series, finished with 30 saves and nearly recorded his first career postseason shutout.

The Golden Knights entering the third period with a four-goal advantage was in stark contrast to how the series started. The Jets opened with a 5-1 win in Game 1. But the Golden Knights responded by winning the next four games by scoring 22 goals while allowing only eight goals to the Jets — a team that entered the postseason facing questions about how it could consistently score goals over the course of a series.

Now the Golden Knights will await the winner of the Edmonton OilersLos Angeles Kings series. The Oilers have a 3-2 series lead and will seek to advance to the second round with a win Saturday.

Last season was the first time the Golden Knights missed the Stanley Cup playoffs, after they came up three points short of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Missing the playoffs led to the Golden Knights changing coaches and hiring former Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy while signing forward Phil Kessel in free agency.

They also added goaltender Adin Hill to have one more option in what became a platoon effort to fill in for Robin Lehner, who missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season to recover from a hip injury.

Under Cassidy, the Golden Knights were one of the most balanced teams in the NHL. They had 12 players who scored more than 10 goals while having 20 players who finished the regular season with more than 10 points.

In net, they largely relied on a tandem of Hill and rookie Logan Thompson, who was named to the NHL All-Star Game. The Golden Knights eventually introduced veteran Jonathan Quick into the group at the trade deadline while Brossoit returned after recovering from a lower-body injury that saw him play in the AHL before coming back to the NHL.

It led to the Golden Knights consistently grappling for position in the contentious Western Conference playoff race. The Golden Knights came away with the best record in the West.

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