Pavelski’s overtime goal saves Stars from being swept by Golden Knights
DALLAS — The Dallas Stars avoided a Western Conference Finals sweep by the Vegas Golden Knights with a 3-2 victory in Game 4 on Thursday, thanks to forward Joe Pavelski’s power play goal 3:18 into overtime.
Now comes the hardest part: trying to become the first team in NHL history to bounce back from a 3-0 deficit to win the round before the Stanley Cup Finals. Teams leading the conference finals or semifinals 3-0 have a 47-0 series record, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
In the process, the Stars would become the fifth team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 hole and win a playoff series. Teams holding that lead in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have a series record of 201-4.
Pavelski knows better than anyone that it can be done. Because he was on the other side for one of those four gatherings.
In 2014, the San Jose Sharks won the first three games against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. Pavelski watched the eventual Stanley Cup champions win four straight to clinch the series.
“They’re no fun when you’re on the other side. But then you understand it can happen,” he said.
Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals is Saturday night in Las Vegas, where the Stars lost the first two games of the series in overtime.
“It’s such a fine line at this time of year. You’re fine and then all of a sudden you’re in a 3-0 hole. So we’ll see where that takes us. We’ll rest and we’ I will look to do it again. Keep trying to put some doubt in their minds,” Pavelski said.
Dallas scored twice on the power play in Game 4, both times with Brayden McNabb in the box for a high stick. In overtime, McNabb’s stick hit the face of Stars forward Ty Dellandrea. Although no penalty was initially signaled, on-ice officials consulted and then called McNabb off the Vegas bench to enter the penalty area.
Pavelski’s one-timer on a pass from defender Miro Heiskanen beat Vegas keeper Adin Hill (39 saves). It was his ninth goal of the playoffs and he kept the Stars’ season alive.
“That’s what you have to guard against. Let those guys not get excited about playing and [this] gets them going,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “You’re still concerned about that, that it’ll trigger their team. “
The Stars had plenty of motivation for Game 4, but the players said they grabbed the Game 4 win for forward Jamie Benn. The Dallas captain was suspended two games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for cross-checking Vegas forward Mark Stone in the face during Game 3. Benn was ejected in the first period for that incident.
Pavelski said the team has talked about extending the series to at least Game 6, so Benn can return to the playoffs. “It’s a tight-knit group in there. I know when I came out in Game 1 against Minnesota [in the first round]there were guys talking about playing hard and buying extra time so I could come back,” said Pavelski, who returned to the Stars in Game 2 of the second round against Seattle after Matt Dumba injured him. .
“Jamie means everything to the guys in this. He’s leading the way. We want to extend that and get it back. We got the win we needed here. We have to keep our focus on the next game and keep trying to win. this extra time.
Some of the Stars’ best players stepped in when they were needed most in Game 4.
Jason Robertson scored Dallas’ other two goals. With McNabb in the box, Robertson scored one of the most skillful goals of the playoffs. He deflected a shot at Hill, then slapped a rebound in the air for himself, tucking it into the net at 15:42 of the first period for his third goal in four games against Vegas.
It tied the game 1-1 after Vegas center William Karlsson scored just 4:17 into the game.
It was 2-1 for the Golden Knights after Jonathan Marchessault scored his eighth playoff goal at 10:23 of the second period. The Stars tied the game again thanks to an energetic forecheck from Dellandrea and Max Domi. Robertson joined the game and put a puck on the post. Defenseman Esa Lindell’s point shot hit the backboards and bounced off Robertson for his second goal of the night at 17:21 of the second.
Robertson finished with a record 11 shots on goal.
Meanwhile, Dallas guard Jake Oettinger had his best outing of the series, making 37 saves.
Things came together for the Stars in Game 3 after Vegas scored early. While Oettinger wasn’t happy to give up an early goal again in Game 4, the Stars didn’t fall apart this time.
“We reacted well and I knew we were going to score at least one goal. So I was just trying to make the next save,” he said.
Oettinger said he thought the Stars’ Game 4 win wouldn’t be their last.
“Three out of four overtime shows you how tight these two teams are. It gives us confidence that we can beat these guys,” he said. “We can build on what we did tonight.”
This belief could be found in the Dallas locker room after the game – and possibly back in Las Vegas for Game 5.
“We have a great group here,” forward Roope Hintz said. “We’re not quitters. We’ll show them.”