The Golden Knights received unexpected contributions from all over their lineup this season, and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final was no different.
It just wasn’t enough, as the Knights fell to Washington 4-3 on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena to give the Capitals their first Stanley Cup.
The unexpected contributions were never more evident than Vegas’ second goal, a score by forward David Perron with an assist from forward Tomas Tatar. Perron, who was scratched in Game 4, and Tatar, who was making his second Final appearance, tied the score 2-2 in the second period.
“It was a special year for us,” Perron said. “I don’t know what to say right now.”
Perron and Tatar came together to form a revamped third line with Cody Eakin, and the group combined for nine hits in Game 5, the most of any Golden Knights’ line. The three also delivered one of the game’s key moments, as Tatar deflected a shot by Colin Miller toward the net with 7:04 left in the second period and the puck went off Perron in the crease and in.
The goal was looked at for goaltender interference but stood after a review, giving Perron his first score and ninth point in 15 games this postseason. It was Tatar’s second point in eight playoff games with the Knights.
The two set the stage for the Golden Knights to take the lead less than seven minutes later, but that work was undone by the Capitals’ two-goal third period.
”I’m trying to fight back emotions. It’s really hard,” Perron said. “We never even expected to have a chance at the Stanley Cup.”
But that chance did come, and now the Golden Knights will have to work to maintain the depth that Perron and Tatar brought to the squad. Tatar, who was traded from Detroit to Las Vegas for a 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick, still has three years left on his deal, but Perron is an unrestricted free agent.
The 30-year-old, who arrived in the expansion draft via St. Louis and had a career-high 66 points this season, is likely to have plenty of teams fighting for his services. And while a decision on a third-line forward might not seem like the most important one the Golden Knights will face, contributions from players like him down the lineup are the reason the team was in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s tough to talk about this whole thing right now,” Perron said. “I need to let it sit for a night at least.”