DALLAS — William Karlsson scored two goals and had an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights advanced to their second Stanley Cup Final with a 6-0 rout Monday night of the Dallas Stars, who had extended the Western Conference finals to six games after losing the first three.
William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had a goal. Carrier, Marschessault and Karlsson were all part of the inaugural 2017-18 Knights season that ended in the Cup Final.
Adin Hill stopped 23 shots for his second career playoff shutout — both against the Stars. The other was 4-0 in Game 3, when the Knights moved one win away from clinching the series before Dallas overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in both Games 4 and 5.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers will be Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Vegas led the Western Conference in the regular season with 51 wins and 111 points. The Panthers completed a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the East finals last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that began the playoffs.
Instead of having to face a do-or-die Game 7 at home against the Stars, coach Bruce Cassidy and the Knights got off to another fast start and never left any doubt about the outcome of this series that included three overtime games.
It was the most lopsided playoff loss for the Stars since the franchise moved south from Minnesota before the 1993-94 season.
“You just expect more from yourself in a game like this,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, the 38-year-old veteran still without a Stanley Cup after 17 seasons.
The Stars got captain Jamie Benn back after his two-game suspension for a cross-check to the neck area of Vegas captain Mark Stone early in Game 3. But Benn had a minus-2 rating without a shot after playing only 3:46 in the first period and finished minus-2 with only one shot in 12½ minutes on the ice.
Vegas led for good when Carrier scored 3:41 into the game after a puck poked from behind the net in the vicinity of three Dallas players. Carrier skated across the front of the crease and put a backhander in the net, the ninth time this postseason the Knights scored in the first five minutes.
Karlsson’s power-play goal came midway through the first period to make it 2-0 after a penalty that likely prevented him from scoring.
Nicolas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and popped in the air behind the goalie. Karlsson was charging into the crease when Stars defenseman Esa Lindell raised his stick and swatted the puck out of play, drawing a delay-of-game penalty.
With the man advantage, Reilly Smith took a shot from the circle to the left that was deflected in front by Roy and then off Oettinger’s extended skate before Karlsson knocked in the rebound.
After Kolesar made it 3-0 in the first and Marchessault scored his ninth goal in the second, Karlsson’s franchise-record 10th goal for a playoff series extended the lead to 5-0 two minutes into the third period.
Oettinger had been 3-0 when the Stars were facing elimination this postseason, including Game 7 in the second round against the Seattle Kraken before stopping 64 of 68 shots the previous two games against the Knights.
That was after Vegas had scored three goals on five shots in the first 7:10 to chase him from Game 3, the only lopsided game in the series until the finale. Two of their three regular-season games went to shootouts.
Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in an conference finals or NHL semifinals after being down 3-0 and the first since the Stars lost to the Detroit Red Wings in a sixth game in 2008. Only two teams got to a Game 7, which both lost — the New York Islanders to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 and the New York Rangers to the Boston Bruins in 1939.
Vegas avoided a Game 7 at home against the Stars and coach Peter DeBoer, who is 7-0 in such do-or-die games, including the Seattle series finale two weeks ago.
DeBoer was the Vegas coach for its only Game 7 wins — in the second round in 2020 against the Vancouver Canucks and 2021 in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. But the Golden Knights fired him after they missed the playoffs last season for the only time in their short existence.