EDMONTON — The Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Edmonton Oilers from Stanley Cup contention and advanced to the NHL’s Western Conference final with a 5-2 road win Sunday.
The Golden Knights took the best-of-seven Pacific Division final four games to two.
Vegas carried a 4-2 lead into the third period on Jonathan Marchessault’s natural hat trick in the second.
Reilly Smith and William Karlsson with the empty-net goal also scored for the Golden Knights. Goaltender Adin Hill made 39 saves for the victory.
Connor McDavid and Warren Foegele were Edmonton’s goal scorers.
Oilers starter Stuart Skinner was replaced by Jack Campbell for the third time in four games.
Skinner stopped 13 of 17 shots over 40 minutes. Campbell had four saves in the third period.
The Golden Knights reached the NHL’s final four for the fourth time in the team’s six-year history.
Vegas will meet the winner of the series between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken. That series is tied at three wins apiece with Game 7 scheduled for Monday.
The Oilers didn’t get as far in the post-season as they did in 2022.
Edmonton reached last year’s conference final before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The Golden Knights held Edmonton’s vaunted power play to one scoreless chance in Sunday’s second period.
Vegas limited the NHL’s highest-scoring team in the regular season to 10 goals over the last four games of the series.
The Knights also outscored Edmonton 17-10 even-strength.
Leon Draisaitl, who scored 13 goals in his first eight playoff games, and McDavid were reunited on the same line in Sunday’s third period in an attempt to produce more offence.
The Oilers generated several chances. McDavid rang a shot off the post. Campbell was pulled for an extra attacker with over three minutes to play, but Hill and the Golden Knights stood firm.
Seconds after a Vegas power play expired late in the second period, Marchessault completed his hat trick with a four-on-four goal at 18:36.
His wrist shot from just above the hash marks on a cross-ice feed from Alex Pietrangelo beat Skinner far side.
An Alec Martinez slapshot deflected into the air off Skinner’s shoulder and landed on the goal line for Marchessault standing at the crease to tap in at 7:44
The puck redirected off a skate in front of the crease to Marchessault, who fired into the opening at 4:26 as Skinner slid across the goalmouth to try and stop him.
Edmonton scored first in the first five games of the series, and was occasionally guilty of giving up a quick one to Vegas immediately afterward.
The script flipped in Game 6 with the Golden Knights scoring 24 seconds after puck drop, and the Oilers countering 31 seconds later.
The hosts led 2-1 by 2:43 of a penalty-free first period when Derek Ryan backhanded a pass from behind the goal line to Foegele driving the net.
McDavid scored his eighth of the playoffs and his second even-strength 55 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Brett Kulak carried the puck over the blue line to the middle and dished to the Oilers captain on the wing.
The NHL playoff leader in points with 20 beat Hill with a low shot far side under the goalie’s blocker.
Smith scored his second in as many games off an Edmonton turnover in its own corner.
Skinner cleared the puck along the boards into a pair of Vegas jerseys and the puck came out to Smith in the slot for a Vegas goal 24 seconds into the game.
After an Oilers’ turnover in their own corner, Smith beat Skinner from the slot at 24 seconds for Smith’s second in as many games.
BIG-MINUTE MEN BACK: Both clubs had premier defencemen back in their lineups Sunday after they served one-game suspensions in Game 5 — Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse and Vegas’s Pietrangelo.
The Oilers hadn’t forgotten Pietrangelo’s slash on Draisaitl at the end of Game 4, however, as both Draisaitl and Nick Bjugstad gestured at the Knight’s defenceman with their sticks during Sunday’s game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2023.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press