On the heels of impressive goaltending, the Dallas Stars are now one win away from the Stanley Cup Final. While the Vegas Golden Knights dominated the course of play, the Stars’ defence and shot-blocking helped them come away with a tight 2-1 victory. Vegas will now need to win three straight games to advance to the Cup Final.
Anton Khudobin Shines in Game 4 Victory
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Golden Knights Recover From Early Penalties in First
The Golden Knights started with their fourth line as always, with Nicolas Roy taking the place of the injured Tomas Nosek. While no-one seized the momentum to start, the Knights’ defence came out with a bolt of confidence and seized possession to start the game. They broke up a Jamie Benn pseudo-breakaway about three minutes in to prevent a scoring chance against, but Dallas seemed to game from juice from that. They drew a penalty shortly after, but nothing came of it. A blatant Nick Cousins trip a few minutes later put the Stars back on the man-advantage, sustaining a solid start for the Dallas offence. Yet the Knights’ penalty kill continued to be strong, allowing Vegas to emerge unscathed.
Vegas got some sustained offensive pressure from their big guns, but Stars goalie Anton Khudobin stopped an opportunity in front for Max Pacioretty to end the onslaught. Dallas’ Tyler Seguin then took the Stars’ first penalty of the game, and Dallas was saved from a 5-on-3 by a non-call on a Joe Pavelski puck-over-glass infraction. Then on yet another Dallas penalty later, defenceman Esa Lindell was stung blocking a Mark Stone blast. The Stars killed it off, but Lindell did not return for the rest of the period. The Knights entered the first intermission in control, outshooting the Stars 12-5. The Knights led the Stars in expected goals 0.56 to 0.32.
Vegas Onslaught Dominates Early in Second, But Pavelski and Stars Come Away With Lead
The second period started on an ominous note for the Stars. Roope Hintz didn’t come out for the start of the period. The Stars quickly got themselves back into penalty trouble as Vegas dominated the early going. It culminated with Pacioretty missing a wide-open net, but a 92-mph bomb by Alec Martinez finally broke the ice on the ensuing faceoff, making it 1-0 for the Knights.
Vegas created a flurry of opportunities for themselves. They sustained offensive pressure for about four straight minutes in the middle of the period. The first ten minutes of the period was quite possibly the most dominant stretch of play by the Knights in this series. They recaptured some of their elite play that the Stars had been able to stifle so far. At the midway point of the period, the Knights’ lead in expected goals had grown to 1.54 to Dallas’ 0.45.
But a nasty giveaway by Nate Schmidt on a broken play left Pavelski open. A change-up shot that went off Schmidt’s stick beat Robin Lehner to tie the game at one apiece. That’s despite the shot totals being 22-7 in favour of the Knights. A bad retaliatory penalty by Jonathan Marchessault kept the momentum going in Dallas’ direction. But Lehner wouldn’t let Dallas have it easy, making an amazing save on Alexander Radulov at the beginning of the power-play. The Stars wouldn’t be denied on their next power-play opportunity, however. Captain Benn capitalized with under a minute left in the period to make it 2-1 Stars.
Stars Shine Defensively to Close Out Game
Fear struck Knights fans at the beginning of third as Mark Stone was not on the Vegas bench, but he returned almost immediately. The third began rather uneventfully, with both teams consistently trading chances. Pacioretty’s terrible puck luck continued, ringing a shot off the post.
The Knights kept pushing and eventually drew a 5-on-3. Dallas, with the help of Anton Khudobin, managed to kill it off late in the game. Lehner continued to shine, stopping a Miro Heiskanen breakaway with two minutes left in the game. A big shot block by Tyler Seguinstymied the Knights once they pulled their goalie, and Dallas made it tough for the Knights to sustain pressure. That was all, and the Stars will enter Game 5 with a chance to move onto their first Stanley Cup Final since 2000. Khudobin finished the game with 32 saves, holding the Knights to just one goal.
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