For the first time in NHL history, the first two games of both conference finals have gone to overtime. Much like the Panthers out East, the Vegas Golden Knights won both games, taking a 2-0 series lead against the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon.
Shea Theodore took a shot that took some odd bounces before Chandler Stephenson put home the loose change for the 3-2 clincher. The Golden Knights have now won all three of their playoff overtime games, while the Stars have dropped all four of theirs (including these two versus Vegas).
When it comes to who scored the first goal of Game 2, the NHL waffled between the player who was the biggest catalyst for the play (Miro Heiskanen) and someone who may or may not have made contact with a deflection while creating havoc in front of the net (Radek Faksa). Either way, it’s the sort of chance that could be a go-to when these two teams are locking down the high-priced real-estate in the middle of the ice.
It wasn’t yet clear so early in Game 2, but goals and chances would end up being precious for both teams.
Golden Knights’ Stone, Stars’ Robertson warming up
After going pointless in Game 1 against Winnipeg (his hasty return to action from back surgery), Stone went on a tear. From the last four games against the Jets to the first four against the Oilers, Stone scored four goals and six assists for 11 points in six contests. Things slowed down from Game 3 to 6 against the Oilers (one goal, zero assists in four games), but he’s off to a nice start against Dallas.
Despite injury limitations — and flawed skating even during his best days — Stone keeps making plays with the speedy processor that is his big hockey brain. By overwhelming a defenseman on the point, Stone created a dangerous-looking 2-on-1, but couldn’t beat Jake Oettinger. It was at least the second time Oettinger spurned Stone, as the clever winger was also thwarted all alone in Game 1. But he eventually broke through with a power-play goal on a 5-on-3 advantage.
Both teams were getting their power play chances, with each able to convert on at least one opportunity. For the second straight game, Jason Robertson scored a scrappy goal, this time on the power play.
While Robertson’s struggles were a bit overblown heading into the Western Conference final (the goals slowed, but he was still generating a decent number of assists), there’s merit to the argument that the superstar winger is scarier when his shot is a bigger threat. Generating a goal streak could be the tonic, even though these haven’t been highlight-reel tallies.
Eichel, Golden Knights eventually break the tie, force OT versus Stars
Did the Stars assume that they could make a 2-1 lead stick, or were the Golden Knights simply pouring it on? For a significant stretch after Robertson’s goal (especially in the third period), it looked like Jake Oettinger might lock Game 2 down.
Jack Eichel and the Golden Knights just kept plugging away, though. For a time, the Stars were mostly keeping Vegas’ chances low, although Vegas was carving out some quality opportunities.
However you explain it, the Golden Knights dominated the third period of Game 2 and were eventually rewarded when Eichel set up another big Jonathan Marchessault goal.
The Stars can take solace in the fact that this close series is shifting to Dallas, but they have a lot of work to do to get back in it before it’s too late.