Vegas center Ivan Barbashev celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars on Monday in Dallas. Gareth Patterson/Associated Press

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 over the Dallas Stars, who had extended the Western Conference Final 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 their 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 last Tuesday, when the Knights were already within one win of 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 Florida 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 Carolina in the East final last Wednesday, but their 40 wins and 92 points in the regular season were the fewest among the 16 teams that began these NHL 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.


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 already had a minus-2 rating without a shot after playing only 3:46 in the first period.

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 of a game.

Karlsson’s power-play goal came midway through the first period made it 2-0, and after a penalty that likely had prevented him from scoring.

Nicolas Roy took a shot that deflected off Jake Oettinger’s glove and popped up 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, which 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 of these playoffs extended the lead to 5-0 only 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 Seattle before stopping 64 of 68 shots the past 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, which was the only lopsided game in the series until the finale. Two of their three regular season game went to shootouts.

Dallas was only the fifth team to force a Game 6 in a conference final or NHL semifinal after being down 0-3, and the first since the Stars lost to Detroit in a sixth game in 2008.

Only two teams got to a Game 7, which both lost — the New York Islanders to Philadelphia in 1975; and the New York Rangers to Boston 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 Vancouver and 2021 in the first round against Minnesota. But he was fired by the Golden Knights after they missed the playoffs last season for the only time in their short existence.



PANTHERS: Sergei Bobrovsky needs a haircut.

The goaltender for the Florida Panthers uses a thin headband to hold some of his hair back these days. Long hair usually isn’t a problem for Bobrovsky at this time of year: When a season ends, he gets most of it shaved off and keeps the cut super-short until the next season begins.

This season is still going. As such, the hair is still growing.

So, too, is the legend of Bobrovsky, who was backing up Alex Lyon when these playoffs began and now has helped carry the Panthers into the Stanley Cup Final. Bobrovsky led the way to ousting points-record-setting Boston in Round 1, Toronto in Round 2 and then Carolina in an Eastern Conference finals sweep that included a four-OT victory in Game 1.

Games like those are why Bobrovsky has holes drilled into his skates; he sweats so much and sprays himself with so much water during games, and all that moisture running down his jersey, pants and pads has to drain out somewhere.

“He’s on another planet,” Florida forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “He’s been playing so well this whole playoff run. I mean, seems like whenever we need a big save, he’s there. Whenever something happens for (opponents) to get some momentum, he gets it back. He changes the whole game for us and he’s been unbelievable. He’s like a brick wall back there.”


Bobrovsky’s numbers over his last 12 games are brick-wall-esque, for sure: 11-1 record, 438 saves on 465 shots for a .942 save percentage, a goals-against average of 1.95. In nearly 100 minutes of overtime hockey, he’s seen 54 shots and stopped them all.

The Panthers landed him as a free agent with a $70 million, seven-year deal in 2019. He’s worth every penny of that deal right now.

“He’s been doing it all year and every year and now he finally gets rewarded to be in the Cup final,” said Florida forward Patric Hornqvist, who takes shot after shot after shot on Bobrovsky in practice, one hockey workaholic helping another.

“My wife told me that he was actually crying when he knew we were going to make it. Those moments … those are so cool when a player really recognizes what kind of position we’re in.”

Panthers Coach Paul Maurice stopped trying to figure out what makes netminders tick long ago. He often says he knows next to nothing about playing the position. He says hello to Bobrovsky in the morning, and sometimes that’s all that needs to be said.

There is a trust level there. Maurice doesn’t have to tell Bobrovsky to work hard. He knows the 34-year-old veteran with 13 years in the NHL will do whatever he feels is required to be at his best.


“That’s definitely awesome,” Bobrovsky said. “I’ve been in the league a little bit, you know, and I kind of know my body and my mind. I know the tools, what makes me, what prepares me. I definitely appreciate that trust. It’s great to feel that and it’s great to have that … that freedom in your environment.”

He’s earned it. Bobrovsky shows up for work early, leaves late, always locked in on the task. That doesn’t mean things always go according to plan.

This season was not easy. Bobrovsky was 12-13-2 with a 3.25 GAA in his first 29 games, along with a save percentage of .897. He got hurt in January, missed about three weeks, came back and was more of his normal self; a 12-4-1 record in his first 17 games after recovering from the back injury, with a 2.54 GAA and .915 save percentage.

And then he got sick in mid-March. The Panthers were in big trouble and needed a huge run just to make the playoffs. Lyon took over and became a folk hero, going 6-1-1 in the final eight games of the regular season. Florida kept Lyon in net to start the playoffs. Bobrovsky understood.

“Alex stepped in and played unbelievable hockey for us,” Bobrovsky said. “He brought us to the playoffs.”

In the Boston series, Maurice went back to Bobrovsky. The Panthers trailed the series 3-1 against a team that set an NHL record for regular-season points, the overwhelming Cup favorites. Brad Marchand had a chance on a breakaway to win Game 5, and the series, for Boston at the buzzer. Bobrovsky kicked the puck away with ease to save the season. Fast forward a month, and Florida is playing for a title.


“It’s like a roller coaster,” Bobrovsky said.

If so, the Panthers are enjoying the ride. They’re on a long break right now, with Game 1 of the final against Vegas not coming until this weekend. The Panthers will be rested, and Bobrovsky says his routine won’t be affected by all the time off.

This will be his first trip to the final. His inspiration is obvious, and if he ever needed a reminder, he merely would have to look at something hanging on the wall next to his stall in the Florida dressing room. It’s an image of the Stanley Cup with 16 holes cut into it, 12 of those holes filled by a puck commemorating each playoff win so far.

Four holes left. Four wins to go.

“We have to enjoy the enjoy the hockey,” Bobrovsky said. “This is the best hockey ever. You look at this thing, it kind of reminds you how hard we’ve worked to get to this point and how many great teams we’ve played against, how many great players already are out of the playoffs. And we’re still in. We’re still alive. We’re fortunate for that.”

The haircut is coming in a couple weeks. This time, it might happen with Bobrovsky as a champion.

“There’s no superstition to what he’s doing,” Maurice said. “He just works his butt off every day.”

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