Marchessault’s hat trick eliminates Edmonton as VGK advances
For the third time in their short franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights have found themselves in the Western Conference Finals after they eliminated the Edmonton Oilers with a 5-2 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals Sunday, May 14.
“At the end of the day, the players go out and you need timely goals and timely saves and I think that was the difference tonight,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We got our fair share.”
Vegas was led by right-winger Jonathan Marchessault who had a hat trick in just the second period.
Marchessault finished the game with three goals and scored all of the Vegas goals in the second period to go from trailing 2-1 at the start of the period to up 4-2 by the end of the period.
It only took 14:10 of game time for Marchessault to score these three goals and those goals were playoff goals number four, five, and six of this year’s postseason for the right-winger.
“We knew tonight that we were going to need 20 guys,” Machessault said. “I’ve always had the mindset of trying to help my team win a hockey game. One night it’s one guy and another night it’s another guy but tonight definitely feels good.”
Vegas now awaits the winner of the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken series which has a deciding Game 7 Monday, May 15 in Dallas to decide who will face the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals.
“We don’t win if we don’t defend well,” Cassidy said. “No one game did we defend perfectly. We value defending and we talked about that in training camp. You need to score. It’s not the old NHL where it’s 2-1 or 3-2. You need to score to win and the defending part is key and I credit the guys for believing in it.”
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill got the start in net for Game six and came up save after save for Vegas down the stretch, halting any Edmonton scoring in the second and third periods. Hill finished the game with 39 saves on 41 shots for a final save percentage of .951 in the 5-2 win.
“I’ve worked very hard my whole life to get to the NHL and be here,” Hill said. “It’s exciting to be on a team that’s this good.”
Earlier this season, Vegas clinched their third Pacific Division title in franchise history and now sit just four wins away from their fourth Western Conference Finals title in franchise history.
“[Hill] was incredible,” defenseman Nicolas Hague said. “We knew that we were going to need a couple big saves, they weren’t going to go away without a big push and they definitely had that push. When we broke down, he came up with a handful and kept it out. That gets us feeling good and confident that we can close that game out.”
The last time Vegas found themselves in the conference finals was against the Montreal Canadians during the 2020-21 season when the Knights lost in Game seven after the infamous Marc-Andre Fleury goal on his own net.
If it’s the Stars that advance to the conference finals, it will be a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
As each of the games have started this series, there was plenty of scoring early and often in this one. Left-winger Reilly Smith got Vegas on the board first for the first time all series. Before Sunday’s game, Edmonton had scored the first goal in each of the first five games of the series.
Smith’s goal came just 24 seconds into the game.
The Oilers would counter with back to back goals within two minutes of each other. Center Connor McDavid and left-winger Warren Foegele were responsible for the two Edmonton goals that helped the home team grab a 2-1 lead heading into the middle frame.
With Marchessalt scoring the three goals in the second period to give Vegas the 4-2 lead, it would be up to the Knights to protect the two-goal advantage over the final 20 minutes of play if they wanted to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Golden Knight center and newest dad on the team William Karlsson scored an empty net goal with 39 seconds remaining to seal the game and the series for Vegas.
Karlsson and his wife celebrated the birth of their son the night before Game 5 of this series.