Vegas continues improbable inaugural run
A group of players nobody wanted — the self-proclaimed 'Golden Misfits' — are heading to the Stanley Cup final.
Ryan Reaves scored the game-winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights continued their improbable run by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday to win the best-of-seven Western Conference final 4-1.
A franchise that had just two players under contract at this time last year before filling out the rest of its initial roster with castoffs from the league's other 30 clubs in the expansion draft, is now just four wins from hockey's ultimate prize.
"Everybody on this team has something to prove," said Reaves, a tough guy acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to February's trade deadline. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason.
"We're doing a good job of proving everybody wrong."
They certainly are.
After the Jets cancelled out Alex Tuch's opener later in the first period, Reaves tipped home Luca Sbisa's point shot for his first goal with Vegas to silence the white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place with 6:39 left in the second.
A Winnipeg native, Reaves didn't see action in the playoffs until the clincher of the Knights' 4-2 series victory over the San Jose Sharks in the second round.
His last goal before Sunday came 3½ months ago while still with Pittsburgh, but the 31-year-old's unlikely contribution is just the latest example of a team with an incredible work ethic finding a way.
"The guys that weren't playing, myself included, we stayed ready," said Reaves, who munched on a couple slices of pizza before fielding questions from reporters. "We had fun while we were doing it, but we worked hard so when we were called upon we were ready to go."