Stars Win Game 4, Avoid Sweep

Rhett Gardner during morning skate. | Image by Dallas Stars, Twitter

11:05 p.m. Thursday: Reaction

Joe Pavelski’s power-play goal 3:18 into overtime helped Dallas dodge elimination and earn a 3-2 win for its first victory of the Western Conference Finals.

Just as it did in Game 3, Vegas took early control in the offensive zone.

This time, however, the Stars were reluctant to break, surviving many scoring chances before Reilly Smith fired a bouncing puck at the net, and William Karlsson tipped the puck past Jake Oettinger to give Vegas the lead.

Oettinger made some incredible saves to keep Dallas in the game, and the Stars settled down as they went on the power play late in the first period. The puck shot up into the air off Vegas goalie Adin Hill, and forward Jason Robertson batted it into the net.

“When he gets hot, he’s capable of scoring every night,” Coach Pete DeBoer said of Robertson after the game. “It looks like he’s feeling it right now, so we want to keep him that way.”

After Oettinger made another brilliant save on Jack Eichel in the second period, Vegas kept the puck in the offensive end. Eichel gathered the puck behind the goal and delivered a pass to Brayden McNabb, who sent it across the ice to Jonathan Marchessault for a goal to reclaim the lead.

Dallas remained aggressive, and Robertson netted the equalizer as he stood near the net and redirected a loose puck off the end boards.

Dallas and Vegas both continued their quick paces in the overtime, but the Stars seized momentum as McNabb was called for a high-stick 2:28 into the extra period, and Pavelski scorched a one-timer past Hill less than a minute later for the game-winner.

“He lives for those moments,” DeBoer added when asked about the game-winner. “He wants to be in those situations, always has, and[he] delivers almost every time.”

Dallas lives to fight another day and forces a Game 5 at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday in Las Vegas.

9:59 p.m. Thursday: Final score

Joel Pavelski scored a power-play goal in overtime as the Stars won Game 4 in overtime, 3-2, and avoided elimination.

The Golden Knights lead the best-of-seven NHL Western Conference Final, 3-1.

“We’re pretty excited; these overtime games are a lot of fun, especially when you win,” Pavelski said after the game.

Vegas’ Braden McNabb was called for high-sticking with 17:30 left in overtime, setting up the Stars’ power-play opportunity.

It was Dallas’ first overtime win of this postseason after losing four earlier games, including two to the Golden Knights.

Jason Robertson took 11 shots in the game, the most in his career—regular season or postseason—and he scored twice.

9:35 p.m. Thursday: Overtime

The Stars and Knights went to overtime for the third time in this Western Conference Final series.

This time, the score was tied 2-2.

The Golden Knights won Game 1 and Game 2 with early overtime goals.

During the regular season, the Stars and Golden Knights played three times. All of the games went to overtime.

9 p.m. Thursday: Tied 2-2 after 2nd period

Jason Robertson scored twice for the Stars and took nine shots in the first two periods.

Robertson has scored four of Dallas’ seven goals so far in this Western Conference Final with the Golden Knights.

William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault scored Las Vegas’ two goals.

“We need to be better in our breakouts; we need to be better on the forecheck,” Marchessault said on ESPN’s live broadcast after the period. We’re lucky enough that it’s a 2-2 game here; we gotta bring our best in the third.”

Stars goalie Jake Oettinger had 22 saves in the first two periods.

The ESPN broadcast showed former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson and wrestler Ric Flair were attending the game.

4 p.m. Thursday: Preview

The Dallas Stars face elimination as they host the Vegas Golden Knights for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

Dallas finds itself down, 3-0, after two road overtime losses and a shutout at home in Game 3 but is determined to fight back in the series.

“Anytime you’re in an elimination game, regardless of what the series is at, it’s all about your response,” Coach Pete DeBoer told the media on Thursday morning. “I think that desperation is almost automatic, but it has to be controlled desperation and focused desperation.”

The Stars face elimination for the second time in 10 days after knocking out the Seattle Kraken in Game 7 at the American Airlines Center on May 15.

“It’s just an opportunity to play our hardest,” rookie forward Wyatt Johnston told reporters. “I think that Game 7 against Seattle was one of our best games of the year, so I think it’s just the details of putting in the work, doing the things we’ve been doing, and just putting it together for a full game.”

“The nice thing is we’ve been through this before, and we’ve responded well,” DeBoer added. “I expect the same here tonight.”

Dallas will have a few changes in the lineup Thursday night, as captain Jamie Benn is suspended and forward Evgenii Dadonov is out with an injury. Both players have been linemates with Johnston throughout the playoffs.

“It’ll be different,” Johnston admitted. “…I’ve had a chance to play with a bunch of different guys throughout the year. You’re around the guys playing with them in practice, so you kind of know everyone’s tendencies and what they like to do. At the end of the day, everyone’s a good hockey player, so it’s just playing hockey.”

The team recalled forwards Mavrik Bourque and Rhett Gardner from the Texas Stars on Thursday, and both participated in a morning skate.

Most eyes will be on Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger, who was pulled after allowing three goals on the first five shots he faced in Tuesday’s loss.

He’s always been good in bounce-back games, and we expect him to be as good tonight,” defenseman Miro Heiskanen told the media. “We’re going to trust him.”

Oettinger had one of his most impressive games of the postseason in Game 7 against Seattle with 22 saves on 23 shots and has thrived in elimination games during his young career—most notably stopping 64 shots in a Game 7 overtime loss to Calgary a year ago.

“He’s been great for us the whole playoffs [and] the whole regular season,” Heiskanen continued. “We trust him a lot, and we know he’s going to be good tonight.”

Game 4 starts at 7 p.m. CT Thursday.

The winner of the series will move on to face the Florida Panthers, who swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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