Best Moments of the Vegas Golden Knights Inaugural Season
Despite coming up just short of winning the Stanley Cup in their first year in the league, the Vegas Golden Knights achieved what no other expansion team has done in 50 years by making the Stanley Cup Finals. Vegas’ overnight success is unprecedented in recent hockey history and was one of the best stories in all of sports over the past year.
In honor of Vegas’ season coming to an end recently, we’ve gone back and highlighted some of the best moments from their first year in the league.
The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft
This year’s expansion draft was surely one of the best moments of the Golden Knight’s season due to how well their General Manager, George McPhee, was able to form the core of the team by selecting from other squad’s cast-offs.
McPhee’s picks included Marc-Andre Fleury, 43-goal scorer William Karlsson, 75-point scorer Jonathan Marchessault, 66-point scorer David Perron and 29-goal scorer Erik Haula. It’s incredibly rare for a team to come away from an expansion draft with such a talented crop of players, and McPhee’s decisions in the expansion draft have proven to be wise as they’ve set the team up for long-term success.
The Knight’s Knocking off the Stars for the Franchise’s First-Ever Win
For their first regular season game in the league, the Golden Knights took to the road and squared off against the Dallas Stars. After finding themselves down for most of the game after a Tyler Seguin second-period goal, the Knights were able to battle back in the third. Former Stars forward James Neal was able to score twice for Vegas in the last ten minutes of the game, which propelled the team to their first-ever regular season victory.
Vegas Winning Their First Game at Home
Just four days after the team was able to notch its first regular-season victory in franchise history, the Knights returned home to Vegas to take on the Arizona Coyotes.
The game was preceded by a highly-emotional pre-game ceremony where the Knights honored the victims and first responders of the shooting at the Harvest Festival in Las Vegas which took the lives of 58 people two weeks prior.
The Knights came out flying and scored four goals in the first 11 minutes of the game and coasted to a 4-2 victory. The win was the team’s first home win in their young history, and with the victory, the Knights became the first expansion team in NHL history to start their inaugural season 3-0.
The Eight-Game Winning Streak
Even though Vegas got off to a terrific start, there were plenty of naysayers that believed that the team would eventually flare out since they were an expansion team. However, the Knights were able to turn things up a notch in mid-December, when the team rattled off eight straight wins. The winning streak helped propel Vegas to the top of the Pacific Division, a position that they held for the rest of the regular season.
Erik Haula’s Winner in Double-Overtime
After winning the Pacific Division, the Knights had their work cut out for them in the first round of the playoffs as they were drawn against the Los Angeles Kings – a perennial threat in the Western Conference over the past decade.
After winning Game 1 in a 1-0 nailbiter, the Knights and Kings played another incredibly close game that ended up going into double overtime. With just five minutes to go in double OT, Knights center Erik Haula found himself on a one-on-one with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Haula made a nifty move to put the puck around Quick and scored on his forehand, giving the Knights a 2-0 series lead. Vegas went on to sweep the Kings in the team’s first ever playoff series.
The Knights Score 3 Goals to Steal Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals
After making quick work of the Kings, Sharks, and Jets en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Knights had a tricky matchup in the Cup finals against a hard-nosed Washington Capitals squad. Despite taking the lead twice over the first two periods in Game One, Vegas found themselves down by a goal with just about 18 minutes to play. The Knights roared back thanks to a goal from Ryan Reaves and two goals from winger Tomas Nosek, beating the Caps by the score of 6-4. The win would be the Knights only win in the series, ultimately losing to the Capitals in five games.