I don’t know how they do it but the Dallas Stars are off to the Stanley Cup Final as they came from behind to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime and win their best-of-seven series in five games.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, I have yet to pick the Stars correctly, choosing Calgary, Colorado and now Vegas in all three rounds of the playoffs.
I guess the best thing to do is bet against whoever Dallas is playing in the Cup Final (likely Tampa Bay) because I still don’t believe and am going to pick the Eastern Conference winner.
The Stars started off the round-robin tourney very slowly, losing to Vegas and Colorado decisively, before grabbing third place by defeating St. Louis in a shootout. It proved to be most beneficial as they beat the aforementioned Flames in the first round, Colorado in Round 2 and Vegas in the Western Conference Final.
DALLAS 3 VEGAS 2 OT (Dallas wins the best of seven series 4-1)
Denis Gurianov scored the overtime winner on the power play 3:36 into overtime to cap off a great come-from-behind win for the Dallas Stars.
Gurianov has been a revelation in the playoffs as the game winner gives him nine goals in the post-season. Gurianov had an okay season this year with 20 goals and nine assists in 64 games as a rookie, but has come into his own during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs and has 16 points in 21 games.
Chandler Stephenson opened the scoring at the 8:14 mark of the first as Shea Theodore’s stretch pass to the streaking Stephenson sent him in all alone on Anton Khudobin. Stephenson cut across the net and tucked the puck between Khudobin’s legs and into the net.
The Golden Knights outshot 14-9 in the first period as it ended 1-0.
The second period was scoreless with Vegas outshooting the Stars 11-5 as the Golden Knights once again controlled most of the play.
Dallas had a great chance at the start of the third when Robin Lehner robbed Tyler Seguin and the Golden Knights came right back down the ice on a two-on-one. Reilly Smith, he of the 10-game goalless streak, used Jonathan Marchessault (he also had a 10-game goalless streak) as a decoy and ripped a wrister past Khudobin, who had no chance on the goal.
But then cue the comeback by the Stars.
Jamie Benn cut the lead in half at the 9:54 mark of the third as he took a short pass from Esa Lindell, off the skate of Alexander Radulov, turned and fired the puck past Lehner. It was the third straight game that Benn has scored in.
It remained that way until the Stars went on the power play with 5:24 left in the third when Alex Tuch was sent to the sin bin for tripping Roope Hintz. Rookie sensation (at least in the playoffs) Joel Kiviranta took a loose puck in front of the net and flipped it high over a fallen Lehner and into the net to tie the game at 2 with 4:47 left. Kiviranta has four playoff goals this season, including a hat trick in the deciding seventh game against Colorado. He seems to leave his best for when the Stars are in clinching mode.
The game went into overtime when Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud picked a most inopportune time to put the puck out of play. He got a two-minute minor for delay of game after the referees and linesmen huddled to make sure they had the correct call.
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The penalty led to Gurianov’s heroics and as a result the Stars await the winner of the Tampa Bay-New York Islanders series to play for the Stanley Cup.
Joel Klingberg had two assists to lead the way for Dallas.
Mark Stone led both teams with five shots on goal.
As usual, Khudobin was outstanding in the Dallas net and he will get at least a few days off to rest, and deservedly so. Khudobin stopped 34 shots Monday night and gave up only eight goals in five games against the Golden Knights while stopping 153 shots. He truly was amazing and has been since he took over the net from the ailing Ben Bishop.
Lehner turned aside 23 shots in taking the loss. His last four wins were all shutouts in the playoffs.
Rielly Smith – 1
Jamie Benn – 1
Joel Kiviranta – 1
Denis Gurianov - 1
John Klingberg - 2
Shots on Goal
Mark Stone – 5
Tyler Seguin - 4
Ryan Reaves - 6
William Carrier – 6
Mattias Janmark – 4
Alex Tuch - 4