LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the sixth time in their seven seasons, defeating the Minnesota Wild 7-2 at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.

“There's no doubt this is something they want to do. They want an opportunity to repeat as Stanley Cup champions,” Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So I think the process of getting here had some ups and downs this year. I mean, we're all dealing with, you know, what's the appropriate way to go about our business throughout the year and set ourselves up.”

Chandler Stephenson had four assists, Logan Thompson made 25 saves, and Tomas Hertl scored his first goal with Vegas (43-28-8), which ended a three-game losing streak and remained three points behind the Nashville Predators for the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Golden Knights, the defending Stanley Cup champions, also moved one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division with three games remaining for each. Vegas has a game in hand on Nashville.

“We still want to build, you know, the momentum for the playoffs,” Hertl said. “We still want to win next week’s games and just feel really good about our game … because the playoffs, before you know it, will be right there. We want to just build our momentum and our game because the playoff is a little different, but we’ll just keep getting ready for it.”

MIN@VGK: Hertl puts home his first goal as a Golden Knight

Marat Khusnutdinov and Ryan Hartman scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves for Minnesota (37-33-9), which has lost four of its past five and been eliminated from playoff contention.

“We’ve got to be way better than that,” Minnesota coach John Hynes said. “We’ll have a big discussion tomorrow."

Nicolas Roy gave Vegas a 1-0 lead with a short-handed goal at 2:57 of the first period, tapping in a loose puck inside the crease. He returned after missing three games with an undisclosed injury.

Pavel Dorofeyev extended it to 2-0 at 6:21 by roofing a wrist shot.

Jack Eichel pushed the lead to 3-0 on the power play at 8:35. He scored on a one-timer off a Noah Hanifin pass for his 30th goal of the season.

“Three goals in the first, it's always positive,” Vegas forward William Karlsson said. “The boys were hungry. We wanted to, you know, make sure we did our part. We got some help on the way, but you know, overall, really, really good game.”

MIN@VGK: Eichel fires home a one-timer from the circle for a power-play goal

Khusnutdinov’s first NHL goal in his 13th game cut it to 3-1 on the power play at 7:42 of the second period. He scored in front with a tip of Brock Faber’s shot from the point.

“It’s a dream. It’s a good feeling. Guys helped me,” Khusnutdinov said. “We lost the game. My goal didn’t help the team.”

Jonathan Marchessault scored a power-play goal from the slot to make it 4-1 at 13:12, and Hertl increased it to 5-1 at 2:27 of the third period, chasing down a rebound in the left face-off circle and beating Fleury to the short side.

It was Hertl’s third game since being traded from the San Jose Sharks on March 8. He didn’t debut for Vegas until Monday because he was recovering from having knee surgery Feb. 12.

“It was awesome, you know,” Hertl said. “Everybody was definitely happy, even the fans. It was just a great feeling. I'm more happy about the win and clinching the playoffs today, but [it] definitely feels really good to score the first one here in the building because it's a lot of fun to play here.”

Hartman cut it to 5-2 at 7:13 with Fleury off for an extra attacker during a delayed penalty. His shot from the left circle deflected off Hanifin’s stick at the right side of the net.

Karlsson gave the Golden Knights a 6-2 lead at 10:49, and Keegan Kolesar scored at 13:55 for the 7-2 final.

“I like the way we’re trending,” Cassidy said. “I think the guys know the light is at the end of the tunnel. Now that we’ve punched our ticket, we can start working on our game and figure out who our opponent is. I think you’ll see a lot of energy around the team in the next week or so.”

NOTES: Marchessault scored his team-leading 42nd goal and is one shy of the Golden Knights record for most in a season, set by Karlsson in 2017-18. … Hanifin had two assists in his first game since signing an eight-year, $58.8 million contract ($7.35 average annual value) on Thursday. … Wild forward Liam Ohgren made his NHL debut. He had two shots on goal and was minus-1 in 14:07 of ice time.

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