Thursday, May 28, 2020 / by Ken Couture
They didn’t get to celebrate or see a “Y” next to their name in the standings, but the Golden Knights are division champions for the second time in their three years.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman declared the regular season complete Tuesday, with the Knights (39-24-8, 86 points) leading the Pacific Division by three points over Edmonton. The Knights also finished with the best points percentage in the division.
”It’s a big accomplishment for our group,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “We were playing really well down the stretch, and I hoped that we would continue to play that well down the stretch. I think for the organization and for our fans, it’s a really cool place for us to be at.
“When you play at the end of the year, you see how much our team conquered some adversity this year, and for us to be here right now, it seems as though a lot of hard work down the stretch has paid off for our group.”
The Knights lost four straight and were out of a playoff position Jan. 15 when coach Gerard Gallant was fired, but the team rebounded under Pete DeBoer.
The Knights went 8-2 in their last 10 games to move into first place before the season was paused March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That run included a pivotal 3-2 overtime victory at Edmonton on March 9 that enabled the Knights to maintain their grip on the division lead in what turned out to be their final regular-season game.
DeBoer has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with two franchises, but it is his first division title in 12 seasons as an NHL coach.
The Knights won the division in their inaugural season and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
Despite Vegas finishing first in the Pacific, wagers on the Knights to win the division are still pending at multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks. The books are waiting for the NHL to officially recognize the division champions or the wagers will be refunded.
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