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Game 4: Knights at Panthers

Associated Press

Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) is congratulated by his teammates after scoring his second goal of the game during the second period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Florida Panthers, Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla.

SUNRISE, Fla. — Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone have played together long enough to know the impact they create when the offense flows through them.

But the Golden Knights haven’t received that impact from the duo in a little more than a month — going back to the first round of the playoffs.

They delivered another classic performance with Stephenson scoring twice, and Stone assisting on both goals to propel the Golden Knights to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at FLA Live Arena on Saturday.

Stephenson became the third Golden Knights player to reach double digits in goals these playoffs, and Stone is the third to reach 20 points (21; eight goals, 13 assists).

The end result is a 3-1 series lead for the Golden Knights, and a shiny, silver special guest will be inside T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday for Game 5. The Golden Knights will get their first chance to capture the first Stanley Cup in franchise history on home ice.

“It’s a different game than the other ones,” Stephenson said. “There’s a lot more emotion, a lot more everything. Everybody knows what’s going to be there.”

Going into Game 4, the 5-on-5 production from Stephenson and Stone — along with linemate Brett Howden — hasn’t existed on the score sheet. Both had eight points in the five-game series win over the Jets, which ended on April 27.

They were quiet over the next two rounds, primarily because of defensive responsibilities in containing Edmonton’s star duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and the Dallas Stars’ top line of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski.

Stone (seven points) and Stephenson (six points) were nearly invisible in the offensive end, outside of being the line responsible for the game-winning overtime goals in Games 1 and 2 against Dallas.

Saturday was the first time since the onset of the playoffs that Stephenson and Stone made an impact at 5-on-5, and it only took 1:39 to make it happen when Stephenson scored his first goal since Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. He was set up on a breakaway by Zach Whitecloud and beat Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky five-hole.

Stephenson got his second goal at 7:28 of the second period, following Stone winning a puck battle in the corner and finding his center cutting from the high slot to make it 2-0.

After both were a minus-3 in Vegas’ 3-2 loss in Game 3, they contributed to two goals and allowed one in Game 4.

“We didn’t want to lose,” Stephenson said. “We wanted to push back as hard as we could, take their fans out of it.”

For nearly 40 minutes, the Golden Knights did that. They kept the Panthers to the outside and closed the middle of the ice, limiting high-danger chances every time it appeared Florida garnered momentum.

The Golden Knights continued their 5-on-5 dominance by playing a clean game. Both teams committed just one penalty each the whole game.

When William Karlsson scored at 11:04 of the second to make it 3-0, it capped off the kind of response the Golden Knights were confident they were going to have after letting Game 3 slip away; knowing they were two minutes away from a 3-0 series lead, only to let the Panthers rally for the overtime win.

Even the Panthers getting two goals — a pinball-like goal from defenseman Brandon Montour and a one-time finish from captain Sasha Barkov — still felt too steep a hill to climb for the underdog Florida squad. Speaking of hill, Adin Hill bounced back with a 29-save effort of his own for his 10th win of the playoffs.

All of that was because of how early Stephenson and Stone were on the attack.

“I think they’re just good players and it’s going to be hard to keep them down,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Florida had the better of them in the last game, but they finished some plays. It wasn’t like they were poor. I think it’s a simple matter of they’re good players, they’re going to bounce back, and they did.”

Should the Golden Knights win on Tuesday, Stephenson will have the rare distinction of hoisting the Stanley Cup for a second time on the ice of T-Mobile Arena. Stephenson was a fourth-line center for the Washington Capitals when they beat Vegas in five games back in 2018.

Much has changed since then, especially for Stephenson. He’s far from a fourth-line player. He’s as important to the Golden Knights — and has been since he was acquired in a trade from Washington in December 2019 — as anyone else on the roster. Whether as a first-line center whose speed can break a game open for Vegas’ top players, or a third-line contributor who can play effectively on both sides of the ice, Stephenson can do his role.

The man on his right wing, the Golden Knights’ captain, continues to amaze in that he is nearly five months removed from his second back surgery. Stone isn’t playing top-line minutes, but his presence has helped a Golden Knights power play go 6 for 18 in this series. 

The playoff journey started with those two taking over at the right time. In the biggest game in Golden Knights’ history — a statement that will hold true for the next 72 hours — Stephenson and Stone delivered again.

One more win, and Stone will be the first Golden Knights player to ever touch the Stanley Cup. One more win, and Stephenson further cements himself as a star in the NHL.

“I don’t think any of us want to change anything,” Stone said about the approach to Game 5. “We understand the magnitude of the process, but we’re going to go home, and take the game as if it’s a one-game (series) for us. We want to continue to play our brand of hockey and be ready to go on Tuesday night.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun