Marchessault’s Natural Hat Trick Sends Golden Knights To Western Conference Finals

Right wing Jonathan Marchessault scored three straight goals in the second period to complete a natural hat trick and send the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2023 Western Conference Finals. The 5-2 victory at Rogers Place in Edmonton eliminated the Oilers in six games. Vegas returns home to host Game 1 of the conference finals on Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s Game 7 between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken.

Vegas is the No. 1 seed in the West, but the Knights were underdogs to win the series against the Oilers. That’s about to change as Vegas takes the money as the Western Conference Finals favorite.

Seattle is an underdog at Dallas (-215) in Monday’s Game 7, according to hockey odds of leading online sportsbook.

The Western Conference series odds and Game 1 odds will be updated here after the conclusion of Game 7 between Dallas and Seattle.

The heated series between Edmonton and Vegas, the Oilers are favored in each contest. But the top-seeded Golden Knights finished the series stronger in 5-on-5 play, scoring 22 goals (2 empty-netters), including four field goals in the game. The Knights also outrebounded Edmonton 17-10 at even strength, and the Oilers finished with 19 goals, including nine on the power play.

“In the playoffs, there are so many different swings in the game,” Vegas forward Reilly Smith said after the Game 5 win. “The team that can handle and control them better usually ends up on top.”

Vegas did it in Game 6, with Smith opening the scoring 30 seconds into the game. Oilers star Connor McDavid answered 30 seconds later and Edmonton scored again two minutes later to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. But the second period belonged to the Knights and Marchessault, who scored three straight goals to give Vegas a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. Marachessault has five playoff goals this year, and has scored more playoff goals than anyone in franchise history (26).

As the drought of Canadian Stanley Cup teams continues, Vegas has the most Canadians on the roster of the remaining teams in the playoffs (15). That includes goaltenders Adin Hill, Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson, who was an early-season Calder Trophy rookie contender and made the NHL All-Star team before suffering a lower-body injury in early February.

Vegas goaltender Adin Hill was terrific in Game 6, stopping 39 shots after allowing two goals on the Oilers’ first two shots of the game. Hill will be counted on again for the conference finals, with Laurent Brossoit suffering a lower-body injury in Game 2 against the Oilers and still not ready to return in net for the Knights. But Hill was quick to point out the strength Knights defenders and his opportunity to contribute.

“I’ve worked very hard my whole life to get to the NHL and be here,” the 27-year-old Hill said after the Game 6 win. “It is exciting to be in a team that is this good and that has a chance to really do everything. I’m grateful and excited about it.”

The The Golden Knights beat the best Oilers after Edmonton led the NHL in scoring this season and had a record power play unit that completed 32.4 percent of their power plays, the best success rate since the league began tracking the stat in 1977-78. The Oilers were even better on the power play against the Knights, but Vegas showed more discipline in Game 6 with just two penalties. The Golden Knights were the least penalized team in the NHL in the regular season with just 2.92 per 60 minutes.

“We have a lot of older guys on the team that have been through a lot of situations,” Marchessault said. “We are not panicking. It is one of our strengths and will certainly help us in the future.”

Vegas (+200) is now a slight favorite to win the Stanley Cup, followed by Carolina Hurricanes (+215) and Florida Panthers (+350). And neither Dallas nor Seattle will stop the Golden Knights from reaching the Cup Final.

You can bet on that.

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Forbes – Lifestyle

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