When Alex Pietrangelo signed with the Vegas Golden Knights in October, he did not mince words as to why he left St Louis after 12 seasons.
“Obviously the atmosphere; I mean, I think everybody agrees it’s probably the best place to play in the NHL right now,” he said. “They play the way I think the game should be played, so you want to go somewhere you feel comfortable and that you can help.”
His contributions on Thursday helped the Golden Knights move into the NHL’s final four for the third time in the franchise’s four years.
Pietrangelo scored his first goal of the post-season to break a tie late in the second period as the Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3 in Game 6 of their playoff series to advance to the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
Pietrangelo, who finished the series with 22 shots, 21 blocks and a point in all four wins, now has 16 career points in 17 potential series-clinching games played.
“I thought he was the best player in the series, on either team,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “He was an absolute monster for us. Defensively, blocking shots, offensively, the goal tonight — that’s what we brought him here for, for this time of year and those situations.”
Nick Holden, William Karlsson, Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier and Max Pacioretty also scored for Vegas, who won four straight in the series and next face the Montreal Canadiens.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots and moved into sole possession of fourth place all-time with 89 playoff wins.
Devin Toews, Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky scored for Colorado. Philipp Grubauer made 17 saves for the Avalanche.
After firing a team-high 45 shots during the post-season, Pietrangelo’s 46th attempt found the back of the net with 18 seconds left in the second period after he gathered a rebound from Alex Tuch’s shot that caromed off the end board, and he sent the puck top shelf to beat Grubauer and put Vegas up 4-3.
“That’s a bad average,” Pietrangelo said with a smile about his one-of-46 clip. “Sometimes they all go in, sometimes none of them go in and you just continue to put yourself on a spot to score. You get the chances, the looks that you want, and eventually things will turn. Of all the chances I had, I wouldn’t have guessed that that’s the bounce I would have got.”
Colorado, who blew a 2-0 series lead after winning games 1 and 2 at home, became the eighth straight Presidents’ Trophy winners to bow out of the playoffs without making the Stanley Cup Final.
“Nobody wants to play just a good regular season and lose in the second round,” Rantanen said. “I know all of us wanted to win, that’s what we were pushing for.”
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