The Dallas Stars (37-24-8) will clash against the Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8) as they search for the series lead on Thursday. The series is tied 1-1 going into game three. At the end of the regular season, the Stars were third in the Central Division with 82 points. Within the bubble, they’ve played eighteen games and lost eight of those. The Knights were first in the Pacific Division when the regular season ended and had 86 points. They’ve dropped only five of the seventeen games that they’ve played. Game two ended in yet another shutout, the second in as many contests between these teams. The final score was 3-0 in the Knights’ favor.
Penalty Filled Second Period Proves Costly For StarsThe Dallas Stars are not normally a team that takes many penalties. However, in game two, the team spent a total of 14 minutes in the box. While not an extreme number in comparison to some other teams, when put up against their opponent, who had nearly three times fewer penalty minutes than the Stars, a problem starts to emerge. During the regular season, the Stars were firmly middle of the pack when it came to their penalty minutes. Their 8.23 penalty minutes per game put them at seventeenth in the league in that category, and their 568 total penalty minutes had them in the same spot. Three of Dallas’ six penalties in game two came nearly back to back with each other in the second period. They were a series of costly mistakes, though, as all three of Vegas’ goals would be scored around that time in the second period.
There wasn’t much to talk about with the Stars’ performance other than their penalty minutes. They registered 24 total shots on goal and had a surprisingly low 47 hits. For a team as physical as the Stars, that’s not a lot. They fell short in the faceoff circle as well, winning a meager 38.8% of the total faceoffs taken. The Stars would have two goalies minding their net at different points in the contest. They started with Anton Khudobin, who was coming off an excellent shutout win in game one. It was his fifteenth start of the postseason, where he is second among postseason goaltenders with 9 wins. However, after allowing 3 goals on 27 shots, he would be replaced at the start of the third period by Jake Oettinger. It was the first time Oettinger had taken the ice in the NHL, and the young goaltender stopped all 5 shots he faced.
Vegas Finds RedemptionThings were looking bleak for the Golden Knights following game one of the Western Conference Finals. They had not only been shutout by the Stars but seemingly totally shut down by them. They had an extremely low shot total (by Golden Knights standards, at least), and they looked sluggish and completely unlike their normal fast-paced, high scoring selves. However, in game two, they found their groove again. Not only did they return closer to, but not quite, their average number of shots on goal with 32, but they also found their physicality again. This could’ve been due to the return of Ryan Reeves, who had been suspended for one game following an illegal check to the head in game seven against Vancouver. With him back, Vegas was serving hits like they were going out of style. They had 55 total hits in game two.
All of the Golden Knights’ scoring took place within a 9:35 time frame. The rest of the hockey game was entirely scoreless for each team, with all the excitement focused on that one stretch of hockey in the second period. The first goal of the game went to Paul Stastny. It was his third of the postseason, and he would notch a secondary assist on the next Vegas goal. That second goal was scored by William Karlsson on the powerplay. He’s currently fifth on the Knights with his four goals. The last player to find the back of the net in game two was Tomas Nosek. He put his team up by three with his second goal in the bubble. In net for the Knights was Robin Lehner. He recorded his fourth shutout of this postseason, with two of those coming over the last three games. He turned away all 24 shots that the Stars threw at him.
- The Knights are 26-6-2 overall when scoring first.
- The Knights are 8-3-0 when outshot by their opponent on the road.
- The Stars are 7-9 overall in one-goal games.
- The Stars are 3-5-4 when the game is tied after the first period on the road