The Dallas Stars were outshot 33-20 by the Vegas Golden Knights in Saturday’s Game Four of the Western Conference Final in the bubble, but they pulled off the win anyway and now hold a 3-1 series lead.
Dallas won by a final score of 2-1. Alec Martinez opened the scoring for Vegas, while Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn had goals for the Stars. All of the scoring took place in the second period.
Vegas has to be wondering what happened to their perfect plan, but Dallas’ netminder Anton Khudobin has had a lot to say about it.
He stopped 32 shots Saturday, including three on a dangerous-looking five-on-three for Vegas late in the game.
“He’s going to battle right till the end,” Dallas head coach Rick Bowness said. “That’s why the guys love playing in front of him. When he was reading the play like he was tonight, he’s making a lot of tough saves look easy. But that’s what he is: he’s a battler, he’s a competitive guy and he’s keeping us in every game.”
It’s a page out of the playbook of the Vancouver Canucks, who collapsed in front of Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko against Vegas and gave their goaltenders a good chance of seeing the puck. The Stars are pulling off the same basic approach and Khudobin is holding it down.
The Dallas defence is formidable. They held Vegas without a shot for the final 3:51 of Game Four, despite the Golden Knights owning almost every advanced statistical category apart from scoring chances.
“There’s a sense of urgency right now, where we are in the series,” said Vegas’ Reilly Smith. “We have to stay positive. The more you get down on yourself, the more you kind of push yourself in the opposite direction. Goals are going to be scored in the hard areas, we know that. We just have to start finding pucks. Do a better job of making space for each other, clearing space in front of their net.”
The Stars have been here before when they led Colorado three games to one last round before needing a Game Seven win to seal it.
The Golden Knights, 10-2 when scoring first in the bubble, promise to be a “tough out.”
“All we need is to finish,” Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer said. “I think the effort’s there. I think we’re creating a lot of really good looks.”
They may not have crafted a team effort that matches their billing after going four games without a forward scoring a goal, but there’s some gas left in the tank. They’ll need every drop for Game Five Monday.
Image: Canadian Press