Things are holding to form so far in Dallas’ Western Conference Finals matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Many experts predicted a knock-down, drag out seven-game set between two of the best all-around performers in the National Hockey League bubble in Edmonton. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the Stars’ game one win, and even more so in Vegas’ 3-0 win Tuesday night.
Vegas entered the game with similar scoring woes to what Dallas experienced at various points in the 2019-20 season. Despite winning its second round series against upstart Vancouver, the Golden Knights got a measly two goals from its forwards in its last four games- both coming with an empty net late in the game seven.
The trend completely flipped in the second period of Tuesday’s game. Paul Stastny, a high-profile player experiencing similar struggles to Dallas’ Tyler Seguin- who hasn’t scored since game one of the Stars’ second-round series against Colorado, opened the scoring by beating goalie Anton Khoudobin stick side.
Vegas’ other significant struggle entering the night was its power play. In the game one loss, the Golden Knights went 0-4 with the man advantage. Despite three empty attempts in the first, William Karlsson got the unit going in the right direction for Vegas’ first power play goal of the series.
Vegas drew a whopping five penalties through two periods- and as a result, had possession of the puck in Dallas’ zone for a significant portion of the night. Even as they were significantly out-shot midway through the second, the Stars had a chance to capitalize on a momentum shift when interim head coach Rick Bowness won a challenge resulting in a Golden Knights goal coming off the board thanks to goaltender interference.
The little victory was negated moments later, when Vegas’ Tomas Nosek’s timely reaction made it 3-0 again.
Though starter Anton Khoudobin was decent in net stopping 24 of 27 Vegas chances, goalie Jake Oettinger, a 2017 first round pick, made his NHL debut in the third period. Dallas’ pushed offensively in the third down three goals, resulting in just four Vegas shots- and Oettinger made four easy saves.
Oettinger’s humble debut throws another interesting wrench into Dallas’ goalie situation. Khoudobin has started 15 of the Stars’ 18 postseason games, while slated starter and 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop has played just twice- and allowed four goals in each game. He again was deemed unfit to play Tuesday night.
No matter who Dallas turns to in net, it will have a chance to regain the series lead in game three Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 and can be seen on NBC Sports.