LAS VEGAS (AP) — Alex Pietrangelo scored his first goal of the postseason to break a tie late in the second period, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 in Game 6 of their second-round series on Thursday night to advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
Nick Holden, William Karlsson, Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier, and Max Pacioretty also scored for Vegas, which won four straight in the series and will next face the Montreal Canadiens. The Golden Knights are in NHL’s final four for the third time in the franchise’s four years.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots and moved into sole possession of fourth place all-time with 89 playoff wins.
Devin Toews, Mikko Rantanen, and Andre Burakovsky scored for Colorado. Grubauer made 17 saves.
After firing a team-high 45 shots during the postseason, Pietrangelo’s 46th found the back of the net with 18 seconds left in the second after he gathered a rebound from Alex Tuch’s shot that caromed off the end board, and he sent the puck top shelf to beat Colorado netminder Philipp Grubauer to put Vegas up 4-3.
The third period belonged to Fleury, who stopped 11 shots in the final frame, including a one-timer by Valeri Nichushkin from the bottom of the circle. Fleury lunged across the crease to stymie the attempt with what might have been his biggest save of the game, preserving the 4-3 lead with about 14 minutes left to play and keeping the momentum in Vegas’ favor.
Carrier got his first goal of the postseason as he knocked home a rebound from the doorstep, and Pacioretty added an empty-netter to provide the final margin.
Colorado came out of the opening faceoff looking to silence the sold-out crowd, as the Avalanche took advantage of a turnover by Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore. Colorado speedster Nathan MacKinnon raced into the offensive zone with the puck and fed a streaking Toews, who beat Fleury with a snipe just 23 seconds in.
The crowd was reignited when Holden fired a shot from the point and through Grubauer’s five-hole, tying the game just 52 seconds later.
Later it was Karlsson creating a turnover and finding Martinez across the zone. After winding up for a shot up top, Martinez opted to send the puck back to Karlsson, who snapped a one-timer between Grubauer’s skate and the post for his third goal and seventh point in the series to give Vegas a 2-1 lead.
With Pietrangelo sitting in the penalty box after a delay of game call early in the second period, Rantanen skated across the zone and fired an off-balance wrist shot through the legs of Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud and off the inside of his right skate, and off of Fleury’s blocker to tie the game once again.
After winning a faceoff and shuttling the puck to Theodore, Kolesar positioned himself perfectly to redirect Pietrangelo’s shot from the blue line past Grubauer to put Vegas back on top, 3-2.
Colorado tied the game for the third time when former Knight Pierre-Edouard Bellemare sent a cross-ice pass over the red line for Burakovsky, who skated down in on the right wing and lasered a shot by Fleury on the far side.
This story will be updated throughout the game
PREGAME: Knights going with Marc-Andre Fleury in net, Avalance with Philipp Grubauer. Knights lead the series 3-2.
FIRST PERIOD: Avalanche goal Devin Toews (1). assists Nathan McKinnon (6), Brandon Saad (1), AVALANCHE 1, KNIGHTS 0.
Knights goal Nick Holden (1), assists Reilly Smith (5), Nicolas Roy (4). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 1
Knights goal William Karlsson (4), assist Alec Martinez (2). KNIGHTS 2, AVALNCHE 1.
SECOND PERIOD: Avalanche power-play goal Mikko Rantanen (5) (Wrist shot), Assists: Nathan MacKinnon (7) and Gabriel Landeskog (9). KNIGHTS 2, AVALANCHE 2.
Knights goal Keegan Kolesar (1) (Tip-in shot), Assist: Alex Pietrangelo. KNIGHTS 3, AVALANCHE 2.
Avalanche goal Andre Burakovsky (1) (Wrist shot), Assists: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (3) and Cale Makar (8). KNIGHTS 3, AVALANCHE 3
Knights goal Alex Pietrangelo (1) (Wrist shot), Assist: Alex Tuch (6), Max Pacioretty. KNIGHTS 4, AVALANCHE 3 Shots on goal: Avalanche 22, Knights 16.
THIRD PERIOD: Knights goal William Carrier (1) (Backhand shot), Assists: Shea Theodore (6) and Brayden McNabb (2). KNIGHTS 5, AVALANCHE 3.
Knights goal Max Pacioretty (Empty net shot). KNIGHTS 6, AVALANCHE 3, FINAL. Shots on goal: Avalanche 33, Knights 23
This is the pregame story
Colorado Avalanche (39-13-4, first in the West Division during the regular season) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (40-14-2, second in the West Division during the regular season)
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada; Thursday, 6 p.m. PDT
LINE: Golden Knights -129, Avalanche +109; over/under is 5.5
NHL PLAYOFFS SECOND ROUND: Golden Knights lead series 3-2
BOTTOM LINE: The Vegas Golden Knights look to clinch the second round of the NHL Playoffs over the Colorado Avalanche in game six. The teams meet Thursday for the 14th time this season. The Golden Knights won the last meeting 3-2 in overtime.
The Golden Knights are 40-14-2 against opponents in the West Division. Vegas has scored 190 goals and is third in the NHL averaging 3.4 per game. Max Pacioretty leads the team with 24.
The Avalanche are 39-13-4 against opponents in the West Division. Colorado has scored 197 goals and is the league leader averaging 3.5 goals per game. Mikko Rantanen leads the team with 30.
TOP PERFORMERS: Mark Stone leads the Golden Knights with 40 assists and has 61 points this season. Jonathan Marchessault has five goals and two assists over the last 10 games for Vegas.
Rantanen leads the Avalanche with 66 points, scoring 30 goals and adding 36 assists. Nathan MacKinnon has eight goals and five assists over the last 10 games for Colorado.
DURING THE PLAYOFFS: Golden Knights: Averaging 2.8 goals, 4.9 assists, 3.2 penalties and 8.8 penalty minutes while giving up 2.3 goals per game with a .908 save percentage.
Avalanche: Averaging 3.9 goals, 6.8 assists, 3.2 penalties and 9.4 penalty minutes while giving up 2.3 goals per game with a .925 save percentage.
INJURIES: Golden Knights: Peyton Krebs: out (upper body), Mattias Janmark: day to day (undisclosed), Tomas Nosek: day to day (undisclosed).
Avalanche: Jacob MacDonald: out (lower body), Bowen Byram: out (upper body), Matt Calvert: out (undisclosed), Dennis Gilbert: out (face).