Golden Knights eliminate Oilers with 5-2 win in Game 6, advance to Western Conference Final

Golden Knights eliminate Oilers with 5-2 win in Game 6, advance to Western Conference Final

The Vegas Golden Knights are now 2-0 in elimination games in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in Game 6 Sunday night at Rogers Place.

The Golden Knights eliminated the Oilers in six games to advance to the Western Conference Final for the fourth time in franchise history. Vegas also needed just one game to knock out the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.

Jonathan Marchessault scored a natural hat trick in the second period, and the original Misfits – Reilly Smith, Marchessault and William Karlsson – accounted for all five goals in Game 6.

Adin Hill gave up two goals on the first two shots he faced but went on to turn aside 38 straight in his best effort of the postseason.

First period

The Golden Knights and Oilers wasted no time, as the two clubs combined for three goals in the first three minutes of the game.

Vegas opened the scoring for the first time in the series when Smith scored his second goal in two games. It was a strong opening shift for the Golden Knights, and a good forecheck set him up in the slot just 24 seconds in.

However, Connor McDavid responded 31 seconds later, making it 1-1 less than a minute into the contest.

Warren Foegele gave Edmonton its first lead of the game at 2:43 on a one-timer from in front, as Hill gave up two goals on the first two shots he faced.

After that, however, Hill settled in.

He had to.

The Oilers were the better team for much of the first period, and Vegas was fortunate to escape trailing by just one. The Golden Knights' forecheck was inconsistent; instead, Edmonton got pucks deep, cycled and put pressure on Hill and the Golden Knights. The Oilers outshot Vegas 15-7 in the opening frame and earned a 66.7 percent of the expected goal share at 5-on-5.

Notably, zero penalties were called in the first period.

For the second game in a row, the Golden Knights trailed 2-1 after one.

Second period

For the second game in a row, the Golden Knights responded with a three-goal second period.

The second period belonged to Marchessault, who netted all three Vegas goals for a natural hat trick. He went to the net on the first two and beat Stuart Skinner cleanly on the third.

Jack Eichel didn't get an assist on the first goal, but he set up the play, holding onto the puck along the wall before dropping it off to Shea Theodore. Theodore threw the puck towards the net, Ivan Barbashev sent a touch-pass to the open wing, and Marchessault was there to bury it past the diving Skinner.

The goal evened things up at 2-2 at 4:26 of the middle frame.

Marchessault found himself alone in front of the net just over three minutes later. Alec Martinez fired a shot from the point, which Skinner popped up into the air. The puck landed right on the goal line, and Marchessault was there to tap it in to give Vegas its second lead of the night just under eight minutes into the second.

After a flurry of penalties, the Golden Knights cashed in just after an abbreviated 4-on-3 power play had expired. Alex Pietrangelo, making sure to evade Leon Draisaitl's outstretched stick, fed the puck across the zone to Marchessault, who ripped one past Skinner to complete the natural hat trick and make it 4-2 with just 1:24 remaining in the frame.

The Golden Knights really picked up momentum throughout the period, with their forecheck reestablished following the intermission.

At 3-2, the Golden Knights took the first penalty of the game, and it was yet another undisciplined play, as William Carrier got whistled for holding in the offensive zone.

However, the Golden Knights came up with a huge kill, and Hill was the best player on the ice. He made a poke-check on McDavid cutting across the crease, tracked the puck well and made several key saves to preserve Vegas' lead.

The Oilers still had some momentum after the power play expired, but Eichel made an outstanding play as he dove to get a stick on a Draisaitl attempt with 5:16 remaining.

It was just one of many defensive plays Eichel made throughout the first two periods, as he had another solid game on both sides of the puck.

The Golden Knights got their first power play in the final four minutes of the frame, but it was cut short after Theodore had to make a sliding play to break up an Oilers shorthanded 2-on-1 opportunity; Theodore ended up taking out Nick Bjugstad after delaying his cross-ice pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It was a good penalty to take, but it put an end to Vegas' man-advantage.

However, 50 seconds later, Mattias Ekholm got called for boarding after cross-checking Zach Whitecloud into the boards. Vegas got set up on the ensuing 4-on-3, though Marchessault's hat-trick goal technically came at 4-on-4.

The Golden Knights led 4-2 after two for the second straight game, setting up a do-or-die third period for the Oilers.

Third period

Jack Campbell was in the Edmonton crease to start the third, but it was Hill who stole the show in the final frame.

He had to be sharp early, but he was rock-solid for 20 minutes, helping the Golden Knights close out the win.

He made Β a stellar save on an Evander Kane chance less than four minutes into the period as the Oilers had several dangerous scoring chances in a conservative start for the Golden Knights.

Hill made another incredible save, this time lunging across the crease to get a blocker on Ekholm's bid from the slot, just over seven minutes into the period.

It was his 30th straight save after a shaky start.

He continued to make save after save as the Golden Knights killed off more time on the clock. Shots were 11-4 through the first 16 minutes of the frame; Vegas had nothing going offensively but collapsed in the zone and helped Hill guard the cage and get a clear when possible.

Hill was fantastic and stopped all 12 shots he faced; according to Natural Stat Trick, Edmonton generated seven high-danger chances in the third period. Significantly, it was the second period of the game in which Vegas did not take a penalty.

Edmonton pulled Campbell with 3:35 to go, and Eichel made several outstanding defensive plays in the final minutes of regulation.

But with 39 seconds remaining, Karlsson, scored on the empty net to seal the 5-2 win for Vegas. It was his fifth goal of the playoffs.

It was a complete team effort and a gutsy performance on the road.

Discipline was a key to success for the Golden Knights, and it played a significant role in the win. In the end, the Golden Knights held Edmonton to just one power play on the night, which they killed.

The Golden Knights scored the first goal of the game for the first time but still found themselves down by one after 20 minutes.

However, as he has done all year, Bruce Cassidy made adjustments during intermission, and the Golden Knights' forecheck was in full force in a critical second period. The Golden Knights scored three goals in 14:10, with two coming in the span of 3:18.

Vegas needed to score greasy goals, and Marchessault did just that as he tied the game and then added the game-winner less than four minutes later. The Golden Knights have been rewarded for going to the net a lot in recent games, and it paid off once again tonight.

The top line was dominant in the second period, shutting down the Draisaitl line and scoring twice. Their play in the second period was the turning point in the game, as Marchessault cashed in repeatedly after being stonewalled for much of the playoffs.

But Eichel and Barbashev contributed, and not just on the scoresheet. The top trio was Vegas' best line by far, and it's the only line that managed to generate more scoring chances than its opponents (11-9). Most importantly, that line scored two goals and gave up none.

Draisaitl finished the game with zero points and a minus-four rating, and Eichel and his linemates had a lot to do with that.

While Marchessault led the Golden Knights, Hill willed them to victory.

His play after the first three minutes of the game, but especially in the third period, was exceptional.

It wasn't just that he stopped 12 of 12 shots, it was how he did it. There was no panic in his game; even if he had to scramble, it was controlled scrambling. He didn't get caught out of position and, as Cassidy said after the game, he was an absolute wall back there when Vegas needed him most.

The fans were chanting his name in the first period after he gave up two quick goals, but he never got rattled. Instead, he was focused and in the zone for the rest of the night. His saves on Kane and Ekholm in the final frame were memorable, particularly when he robbed Ekholm by exploding across the crease.

The Oilers controlled possession in all three periods and outshot the Golden Knights 40-22. But because of Hill, it didn't matter. He faced 15 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 and 19 total in the game, but he was perfect for 57:17.

His teammates delivered another strong defensive effort, and keeping the game primarily at 5-on-5 was a massive advantage for the Golden Knights. In the most important game of the season, the Golden Knights showed the level of discipline they demonstrated throughout the regular season and did not take a penalty in the first and third periods.

Even though Vegas didn't have much time in the offensive zone in the third period, Hill was composed and got enough assistance from his teammates to run out the clock on the Oilers' season.

But it was a complete team effort, and Vegas' depth played a key role in finishing off the top-heavy Oilers.

Alex Pietrangelo had a strong game in his return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension; he and Eichel finished with team-high plus-four ratings, and Pietrangelo recorded the primary assist on Marchessault's hat-trick goal.

This marked the first time in the series that a team won back-to-back games.

The Golden Knights will face the winner of Monday night's Game 7 battle between the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken in the third round of the playoffs; Vegas will have home-ice advantage in the series.