The Knights blew a two-goal lead in the third period of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final Monday night, losing 3-2 in overtime to the Dallas Stars, who will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
It looked as though the Knights were in full control of the game, but instead of forcing a Game 6 and extending the series, the Stars scored two goals in the third period and finished the comeback in overtime.
Denis Gurianov scored the series-clinching goal just 3:36 into extra time. It was Dallas’ second power-play goal of the night, both scored by the second unit.
Vegas entered the game coming off back-to-back losses and facing elimination for the second time this postseason. From the first shift of the game, it appeared as though the Knights weren’t ready to go down without a fight. However, that effort seemingly slipped away in the third period as Dallas took over the game and ultimately the series.
Chandler Stephenson gave the Knights an early lead on a breakaway just over eight minutes into the contest. Stephenson used his virtually-unrivaled speed to create plenty of separation, split the pads of Anton Khudobin and tucked the puck five-hole to get the Knights on the board.
Down 1-0, Dallas came out to start the third with a strong scoring opportunity, but Tyler Seguin’s shot hit Robin Lehner’s pad and kicked out to Paul Stastny. Stastny fed the puck to Reilly Smith, creating a 2-on-1 with Jonathan Marchessault. Smith, who hadn’t scored a goal since Game 1 against Vancouver, showed zero signs of hesitancy or rust and sent a perfect laser top-shelf to give Vegas what seemed like a significant 2-0 lead just 15 seconds into the final frame.
But the ice started tilting in Dallas’ favor, and it resulted in yet another goal from Stars captain Jamie Benn.
Benn was set up in front of the net, picked up a rebound off a bad-angle shot by Esa Lindell and lifted it above Lehner’s shoulder to cut the lead in half.
All Jamie Benn does is score big goals. Golden Knights need to hold on here. pic.twitter.com/JkkOKqnCbT
Alexander Radulov cross-checked Nate Schmidt prior to the shot, but it was the start of things to come as Vegas began to implode.
Dallas continued to push and ultimately drew a tripping call on Alex Tuch, setting up a power play with 5:24 remaining in the game. Vegas’ potent penalty kill was on its way to killing off its third of the night, but the Stars’ second unit had something to say about that.
Joel Kiviranta, who scored a hat trick in Game 7 against Colorado, hadn’t done much in this series. However, he came up huge for his team once again, scoring his fourth of the playoffs with under four minutes left in the game.
Kiviranta picked up a loose puck and roofed it over Lehner to even things up at 2-2.
But Vegas did not come out like a team facing elimination. There was no desperation, and it wasn’t long before the Knights found themselves shorthanded once again.
Though Zach Whitecloud watched the season end from the penalty box, this game was not on him.
For one thing, the goal was one Lehner should have had. It hit his glove on the way into the net, and there wasn’t much of a screen on the play. For another, the goal was simply the brutal ending to the team-wide collapse.
Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights, National Hockey League, Western Conference, Stanley Cup Finals
Actu monde – US – Golden Knights eliminated from the playoffs after suffering crushing 3-2 OT loss to Stars in Game 5