Golden Knights lose 3-2 in OT as Stars stave off elimination

Golden Knights lose 3-2 in OT as Stars stave off elimination

The Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars played the most thrilling and evenly-matched game of the Western Conference Final, and the two teams required overtime for the third time in four games. But for the first time in the series, it was the Stars who came out on top, taking Game 4 by a final score of 3-2.

Joe Pavelski scored the game-winning goal 3:18 into extra time to extend Dallas' season and force a Game 5.

It was do-or-die for Dallas, and despite missing their captain and another top-six forward in Evgenii Dadonov, the Stars did what they had to do and earned their first win in the third round.

Both goaltenders played exceptionally well.

Despite taking the loss, Adin Hill was spectacular in arguably his best showing of the playoffs. He finished the game with 39 saves on 42 shots for a .929 save percentage.

Though he faced fewer high-danger chances and made fewer high-profile saves, Jake Oettinger had a bounce-back performance after getting pulled 7:10 into Game 3; he stopped 37 of 39 for a .949 save percentage in yet another stellar turnout in an elimination game.

The Golden Knights opened the scoring for the second game in a row, but Dallas found the equalizer before the buzzer in both the first and second frames. Neither team was able to break through in the third, thus necessitating sudden-death overtime.

Vegas came into Game 4 with a 3-0 record in overtime this postseason; Dallas was 0-4. However, the Stars capitalized on a power play and had the last say.

Vegas leads the best-of-seven series 3-1.

First period

The Golden Knights opened the scoring 4:17 into the contest when William Karlsson deflected a perfect pass from Reilly Smith. Karlsson was all alone in front, and he made no mistake on his team-leading eighth goal of the playoffs.

Oettinger came up with a clutch glove save on Mark Stone in front after Jonathan Marchessault forced a turnover on the forecheck behind the net.

Dallas got a power play in the second half of the frame, and an outstanding individual effort by Jason Robertson evened things up at 1-1.

It was the Stars' first goal in over 100 minutes of action.

Hill made the initial save and went to grab the rebound; however, Robertson swatted the puck away and then batted it out of mid-air and into the yawning cage.

It was a relatively evenly-matched period, with Vegas holding a slight edge in shots (13-11) and Dallas leading 11-7 in scoring chances – including a 7-5 advantage in high-danger chances – at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

At the same time, it was by far one of the best periods of the series for the Stars, who generated chances throughout and started to take over in the second half.

Hill was excellent, however, coming up with several key saves early and finishing the period with 10.

Second period

It was all Dallas to start the second period, but Hill came through with one of his best periods of the playoffs.

He needed to, since Dallas led 30-16 in shot attempts, 16-9 in scoring chances and came away with 60.69 percent of the expected goal share at 5-on-5.

The Golden Knights had a power play, but it was tentative, passive and completely ineffective; in other words, a non-event.

The Golden Knights didn't get anything going until the midway point when Jack Eichel was in alone on Oettinger, who stoned Eichel on the backhand twice.

However, Vegas' top line went to work and eventually found the back of the net.

Brayden McNabb, who took the high-sticking penalty that led to Robertson's power-play strike in the first period, made a smart pinch and then fed Eichel behind the net. Eichel came up with yet another strong play behind the net, holding off the Dallas defender and delaying until McNabb could get open at the side of the net. McNabb then sent a perfect cross-crease pass to Marchessault for the one-timer.

It was the second time Vegas took advantage of Dallas' poor defensive coverage, as Ryan Suter failed to challenge Marchessault on the play. The goal gave the club its second lead of the night 10:23 into the middle frame; it was Marchessault's eighth of the postseason, moving him back into a tie with Karlsson for the team lead.

But just like in the first period, Dallas stormed back and got the equalizer in the final five minutes of the frame.

Once again, it was Robertson.

His second of the night and fourth of the series came at the end of a strong extended shift by Dallas' top line. After multiple chances, including a Robertson shot that hit the post, the puck came out to Esa Lindell at the point. Lindell fired wide, and Robertson backhanded the puck off the back boards to make it 2-2 at 17:21.

Third period

The third period was the most entertaining period of the series, and it featured great scoring chances and even better saves at both ends.

It also happened to be the best frame of the night for Vegas; Hill was fantastic once again.

He came up with one of his biggest saves of the series when he stopped Ty Dellandrea on Dallas' 2-on-1 opportunity just over three minutes into the period. It was one of the Stars' best odd-man rushes of the series, but Hill made the pad save to close up the five-hole after Dellandrea saw daylight.

However, it was Hill's save in the final two minutes of regulation that stands above all the rest.

Stars forward Frederik Olofsson had plenty of time and space, and he made the most of it. He walked in unopposed, deked around the crease and lifted a backhand shot near the far post.

But as he has been since taking over the crease for Laurent Brossoit in the second round, Hill was calm, focused and at the top of his game. He stayed with Olofsson the entire time and ultimately shut him down with a kick save.

The Golden Knights had plenty chances of their own, especially by the top line, but Oettinger shut down all 14 of Vegas' bids in his best game of the series.

The Golden Knights led 26-11 in shot attempts and 9-4 in scoring chances and owned 68.34 percent of the expected goal share in the third period. But thanks to strong goaltending, the two clubs proved to be overtime-bound.


For the third time this series, overtime lasted less than four minutes.

But this time, it was Dallas that called game, as Pavelski scored his first of the series to save the Stars' season and force a Game 5. It was his 73rd career postseason goal, giving him sole possession of the most playoff goals among active players.

It was Dallas' second power-play goal of the game after McNabb took another high-sticking penalty in front of the net. The goal came 50 seconds into the man-advantage.

Hill made another brilliant save on the initial shot, diving across the crease to stop Roope Hintz at the side of the net. However, Hill was unable to stop the far-side one-timer; he was screened on the shot and did not have his stick.

The Dallas Stars had to win Game 4, and they fought for that win to extend their season.

The Golden Knights didn't have to win, and there were times during the game when it showed.

It was not a 60-minute effort.

"We're trying to play the right way, but I think their desperation was a little higher than ours," Marchessault said. "At this time of the year, it's not about X's and O's, it's about who wants it more. I thought they wanted it more than us tonight."

When asked what the difference in the game was, Marchessault didn't hesitate: effort.

"Our effort level, I think it was not good enough," he said. "Closing the series is probably the hardest game of the series, so just not good enough for our group."

The Golden Knights had plenty of miscues on execution, particularly defensively. They didn't play with enough urgency in the first and second periods, allowed Dallas to find its transition game and ultimately made fewer plays than the Stars.

"There were a lot of rush chances," Smith said. "I don't think we did a good enough job making it difficult on them."

While Vegas worked to earn its bounces in the first two one-goal games of the series, Dallas did the same tonight.

Their top players stepped up without Jamie Benn – serving a two-game suspension for cross-checking Stone in Game 3 – in the lineup.

In particular, Robertson was sensational. He had two goals, 11 shots, two hits and two blocks, and though he didn't get an assist on the game-winning goal, he made a diving play to maintain possession.

Pavelski came up with the clutch finish, and the Stars had their most effective game of the series.

Though the Golden Knights took one-goal leads twice and were the better team in the third period, Hill was the reason Vegas was in it until the very end.

He was phenomenal.

He gave up three goals on 42 shots and faced 18 high-danger chances.

Not one of the three goals he surrendered was soft.

The first was Robertson's power-play tally; on the play, Robertson deflected the puck in mid-air multiple times after Hill made the initial stop and was about to grab the rebound.

The second was Robertson's goal late in the second period; Dallas' point shot bounced off the end boards and came right to the wide-open Robertson for the backdoor finish.

The third came on a disastrous shift for Alec Martinez, who had a rough game overall. Martinez had a chance to clear but fell down. He hustled back to get to the wide-open Hintz but failed to get there before the scoring chance. He then tripped over Hill as he attempted to go behind the net; in the process, Martinez knocked the stick out of Hill's hands. He went to retrieve it behind the net, but a sloppy handoff left the stick lying in the crease while Pavelski was winding up for the shot. For his final trick, Martinez completely screened Hill, giving him no chance on the game-winner.

"I thought Hillsy made unbelievable saves all along the game," Marchessault said. "He's been so good for us; it's not fair to let him down like that."

The positive takeaway for Vegas is that the Golden Knights lost a close game in overtime despite getting outworked and straying from their game. They simply weren't good enough and didn't match Dallas' intensity.

They will have a chance to rectify that as the series shifts to Las Vegas for Game 5 Saturday night.

"We gotta want it more," Marchessault said.