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The Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL's newest Champions

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The NHL crowned its newest champion last night.

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DAVE GOUCHER: The Golden Knights start to celebrate on their bench. The silver trophy to the Golden Knights,

(SOUNDBITE OF GOAL HORN SOUNDING)

CHANG: That was the call for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals last night on TNT. The Vegas Golden Knights took an early lead to defeat the Florida Panthers, 9-3. It is the first Stanley Cup championship in the city and in the team's six-year history. Joining us now to talk about the win is the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Golden Knights reporter Ben Gotz. Hello.

BEN GOTZ: Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

CHANG: Thanks for being with us. So you were at the game last night, which sounded just awesome. What was it like in person to be there?

GOTZ: Absolutely unbelievable especially the way the Knights did it, where they won 9-3. That's the most goals they've actually ever scored in their history. And because they built such a big lead, the fans and the players really got to celebrate together for long stretches of that game, and you could just feel the excitement building and building. T-Mobile Arena, where the Knights play, is known as one of the best atmospheres in the NHL because of how loud...

CHANG: Oh.

GOTZ: ...That crowd got. But it really just reached a whole nother level last night. And the players did, too, where they're shaking each other on the bench. They're hugging each other. It was really, really cool to witness.

CHANG: That is so fantastic. Well, I know that the game started off with a goal by the team's captain, Mark Stone.

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GOUCHER: Mark Stone with the Golden Knights shorthanded. Drawn by Stephenson. Stone waits, scores.

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CHANG: Scores. Tell us what kind of impact you think Mark Stone had in that game and in this whole series.

GOTZ: Yeah, he's been an unbelievable player and leader for the Knights. This is a guy that has had a really tough time in the past couple of years. He's had two back surgeries in the last nine months, since last May. And he's been able to come back from those for this postseason run to be back with his teammates and help power them...

CHANG: Whoa.

GOTZ: ...To victory. I mean, he's really known for his wild and excessive celebration. And I think the image that's going to stick with me is he completes the hat trick. He goes over to the bench, and you see...

CHANG: Totally.

GOTZ: ...Every gold jersey just wrap around him in this one big, giant, teamwide bear hug. And that really just showed...

CHANG: Aww.

GOTZ: ...The connection that this team has with its captain.

CHANG: Well, despite being so awesome during this series, like doing the hat trick - I'm speaking hockeyspeak now - look at me - that is scoring three goals in the final game - Mark Stone, he wasn't voted the MVP - right? - of the series. The NHL instead named one of the team's original players from their 2017 inaugural season. Tell me about who that person is who was awarded the Stanley Cup MVP and why he earned it.

GOTZ: Yeah, so Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the playoff MVP as voted on by a panel of writers including yours truly. And he's been this really incredible success story for the Knights, where he was a guy that's been overlooked his entire career, undrafted 'cause he was only 5-9, one of the smallest guys on the team...

CHANG: Wow.

GOTZ: ...But has got one of the biggest hearts, just an ultimate competitor, ultimate warrior. And he's been with this franchise since the beginning. He was part of this group of original misfits that kind of took the league and the city by storm when they were an expansion team in 2017, '18. And he played such a key role for the team during this run. He had 13 goals, tied for the most in the playoffs. He was second on the team. And so he really, I think, deserved that honor. And I think it was cool, as a full circle moment, for a guy that's been with this team...

CHANG: Yeah.

GOTZ: ...Since it started out as an expansion franchise with all these guys that no other teams wanted - has now gone from a guy that other teams are kind of looking on with jealousy being, we wish we had a guy like Jonathan Marchessault on our team.

CHANG: Ben Gotz, the Golden Knights reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thank you so much.

GOTZ: Thanks so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF QUEEN SONG, "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gabriel J. Sánchez
Gabriel J. Sánchez is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. Sánchez identifies stories, books guests, and produces what you hear on air. Sánchez also directs All Things Considered on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.