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Golden Knights advance to Cup Final, will face Capitals or Lightning

Defeat Jets in five games, await Eastern Conference winner

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and will play the Washington Capitals or Tampa Bay Lightning.

Vegas defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday to win that best-of-7 series.

"I don't even want to deal with that," Vegas general manager George McPhee said about their Cup Final opponent. "I want to enjoy what this team has done tonight and we'll get that in about a day or so."

The Lightning lead the Capitals 3-2 and can advance to the Cup Final with a win in Game 6 at Washington on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN1).

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Engelland, Vegas awarded Campbell Bowl

The Golden Knights were 2-0-0 against the Lightning this season, including ending their seven-game winning streak with a 4-3 win at home Dec. 19 when Shea Theodore scored the game-winning goal with three seconds remaining. They also won 4-1 at Tampa Bay on Jan. 18. Theodore and forward David Perron each had five points (one goal, four assists) in the two games. Marc-Andre Fleury was 2-0-0 with a .940 save percentage.

Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each had a goal and two assists, and Nikita Kucherov had three assists for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy was 0-2-0 with a 4.00 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.

Vegas was 2-0-0 against the Capitals, defeating them 3-0 at home Dec. 3 and winning 4-3 in Washington on Feb. 4. Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch each had two goals and an assist, and Jonathan Marchessault had three assists. Fleury was 2-0-0 with a .939 save percentage and one shutout.

Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Backstrom and Chandler Stephenson scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby (3.00 GAA, .893 save percentage) and Philipp Grubauer (4.10 GAA, .871 save percentage) each started and lost one game.

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Vegas advances to Stanley Cup Final

The Golden Knights became the third team in NHL history to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, joining the Toronto Arenas (1918) and St. Louis Blues (1968). In addition to the Arenas and Blues, they are the sixth team to reach the Cup Final in their first postseason appearance, joining the Montreal Maroons (1926), Boston Bruins (1927) and Florida Panthers (1996).

Vegas became the 20th team from the NHL, NBA, MLB or NFL to reach the championship game in its first trip to the postseason, and the eighth to start from scratch. The 12 wins needed to reach the Final are tied with the 1996 Panthers for the most by any of the 20 teams.

"I just know that this felt really good tonight, "McPhee said. "We are in the Stanley Cup Final. It's pretty nice. I've had a chance to be there before (1998 GM of Capitals, swept by Detroit Red Wings) and I'd really like to win it this time."

The Capitals have reached the Cup Final once in their history, getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Fleury on Game 5 win, advancing to SCF

The Lightning are 1-1 in the Cup Final; they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games in 2004 and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2015.

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