Vegas one win from 1st Cup after Game 4 victory

SUNRISE, Fla. — Chandler Stephenson scored two goals and William Karlsson added what proved to be the game winner, and the Vegas Golden Knights outlasted the Florida Panthers 3-2 Saturday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

With the win, Vegas secured a 3-1 series lead and will have a chance to win its first Stanley Cup on Tuesday night at home.

Brandon Montour and Aleksander Barkov scored for the Panthers, who fell down 3-0 before showing signs of life. With Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky pulled in the final two minutes, the Panthers threw everything they could at Vegas goaltender Adin Hill before time ran out.

Florida, also in search of its first Stanley Cup, has rallied from a 3-1 series deficit already this postseason, when the Panthers defeated the Boston Bruins in Round 1 in seven games.

“They keep scoring more goals than we do,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said, when asked what’s been the difference in the series.

Hill made 29 saves and fiercely defended his own crease as regulation time ended. Several Panthers and Golden Knights pushed and shoved each other after the whistle as plastic rats and bottles fell down from the stands in an ugly scene at FLA Live Arena.

On the other side, Bobrovsky was strong again, almost keeping the Panthers afloat, stopping 28 of the 31 shots he faced but giving up goals when teammates left him out to dry.

But now, the Golden Knights need to win only one more game to deliver a championship to Las Vegas in just their sixth year of existence, making good on owner Bill Foley’s goal to win the Stanley Cup in that period of time. They reached the final in their inaugural season in 2017-18 before losing to Washington in five games.

“There’s going to be a lot of people in their ear when you are one game away. I don’t think there’s anything wrong or taboo with that,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “When we get on the ice Monday it’ll be time to get back on the ice and back to business.”

Vegas is more talented and has certainly looked more prepared for the spotlight this time around. Stephenson — who beat the Knights five years ago as a member of the Capitals — and Hill were trade acquisitions, as was first-line center Jack Eichel and captain Mark Stone, who had two assists in Game 4.

A couple of original Knights players also helped them take the penultimate step to the peak of hockey’s mountaintop. Jonathan Marchessault assisted on Karlsson’s goal that made it 3-0, his 24th point that ties for the playoff lead in scoring.

Then the Panthers made it interesting. Montour scored with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the second period and set up Barkov with a perfect pass from behind the net 3:50 into the third.

Missing leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk for several shifts, Florida kept buzzing around Hill and got a few more big stops from Bobrovsky to continue the pressure. A 17.4-second 6-on-4 advantage when veteran Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo put the puck over the glass provided a final flurry but did not yield the team’s first power-play goal of the series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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