The Dallas Stars were eliminated from the NHL playoffs after a 6-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday.
The loss was the second home game of the series in which the Stars had allowed three goals in the first period and were shut out.
“I thought they played a perfect elimination game,” Stars Coach Pete DeBoer said of Vegas as he met with the media after the game. “They went to another level we didn’t get to tonight. [They] deserved to win.”
“[I’m] real disappointed for our group,” he added. “Not in our group, [but] for our group for how the season ended.”
Missed opportunities haunted Dallas throughout the series, losing the first two games in overtime and dropping the third in deflating fashion.
“Game 1, we didn’t play well [but] found a way to climb in and lost in overtime,” DeBoer admitted. “Game 3, we self-destructed. [When] You hand two games away at this time of year, it’s a big ask to get back in.”
“We played most of the time pretty well and could’ve won those games, but we didn’t,” defenseman Miro Heiskanen added. “It’s pretty close, but we have to find ways to be a little better.”
Yet, the Stars battled back, winning two in a row without captain Jamie Benn to extend the series to a sixth game and giving themselves an opportunity to seize momentum on home ice.
However, Dallas fell flat to start Game 6 as Vegas increased its intensity and aggressiveness, forcing Dallas into a problematic situation.
“We wanted to come out with a better start,” forward Joe Pavelski told the media after the game. “We go down early; there’s still a lot of belief. We have an understanding [that] there’s a lot of game left. You want to give a little bit more for the crowd to get them into it and keep the momentum coming. We just weren’t able to get it going.”
“…There’s a lot of give and take throughout the playoffs,” Pavelski continued. “There’s a lot of highs and lows. You just expect more out of yourself in situations like this. I don’t know if I have a right answer for it, but definitely wanted more tonight out of this game.”
While the season ultimately ended in disappointment, the Stars can take some positives from this season.
“There was a lot of good throughout the season [and] throughout the playoffs,” Pavelski said. “It’s tough to sit on this game right now, but there was a lot of good…You always have that belief, and we felt like it was a great opportunity; it was a real opportunity…To come up a little short, it’s always tough because we thought there was more out there for us.”
“There’s a lot to be proud of,” DeBoer added. “There’s only four teams left standing out of 32, and I don’t think, at the beginning of the year, a lot of people had us penciled as one of them. There was a lot of work put in by our group [and] a lot of pride in the work they did.”
“It’s a tough way to end the season when there’s been so many good things that they’ve done. That’ll take us a few days to get over, but I think, when we reflect on it, they’ll be very proud of the work they put in this year. They should be.”