3 Takeaways From Stars’ Game 2 OT Loss to Golden Knights

The Dallas Stars returned to the Western Conference Final against a familiar foe, the Vegas Golden Knights. After eliminating the Seattle Kraken in Game 7, the Stars are one inch closer to the Stanley Cup. However, with back-to-back overtime losses to start the third round, Dallas is letting their opportunity slowly slip away. 

Related: 4 Reasons Why the Dallas Stars Will Win the Stanley Cup

Although this Conference Final is far from over, the Stars have, unfortunately, found themselves on the wrong end of some bad bounces, creating a quick 2-0 series deficit. As they return home to American Airlines Center to host Games 3 and 4, the team should make a few adjustments to claw back into the series, or they will be on the brink of elimination. 

Here are a few takeaways from the Stars’ Game 2 overtime loss at T-Mobile Arena. 

Jake Oettinger Has Yet to Steal a Game

Golden Knights’ goalie Adin Hill is outplaying Stars’ netminder Jake Oettinger, not just in the win column but in other critical statistical categories like goals-against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%). Right now, Oettinger has a .885 SV% in two games, while Hill has earned a .921 SV%, a difference of 36 percent. 

Jake Oettinger Dallas Stars
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Considering that Oettinger is one of the game’s elite young goalies, he should have been able to steal a game in this series. Meanwhile, with 55 fewer NHL games on his resume, Hill has kept the Golden Knights afloat with crucial saves, allowing his team to capitalize on their limited offensive opportunities.

If the Stars have any hope of tying the series or winning it, they will need the best from Oettinger the rest of the way. Usually, he bounces back from a loss, but in Game 2, he faced only ten shots through two periods and wasn’t as sharp because he wasn’t busy. Either way, the Stars must stop the bad bounces, while Oettinger needs to make key saves.

Jason Robertson Scores in Back-to-Back Games

After a relatively quiet postseason, with 12 points through the first 13 games, many wondered what happened to Jason Robertson. During the regular season, he had 46 goals and set a franchise record for most points (109) before losing his scoring touch in the playoffs with just two goals in two rounds. 

Even though the team advanced without him lighting the lamp, questions mounted about a potential injury or loss of confidence. Now, as the Stars take on a formidable opponent in the third round, Roberson is back on the score sheet with goals in back-to-back games. However, he’s tallied three of his four goals in overtime losses, which means his team has yet to come through in games when their leading goal scorer finds the back of the net. 

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Robertson’s performance in this series will help determine whether the Stars advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Right now, he’s doing his part; however, there doesn’t seem to be the same hunger in his teammates. Hopefully, he can continue one of the franchise’s most successful individual seasons, but he won’t be able to do it alone. 

Stars’ Failure to Capitalize on Chances is (Now) a Reoccuring Theme

In Game 1, the Stars scored first, lost the lead, and tied the game in the dying minutes, only to lose in overtime while the ice was still wet. In that game, they were outdueled in the faceoff circle for the first time in a long time (57.4%-42.6%) while being outhit and outshot. They also lost the takeaways battle 11-5, allowing the Golden Knights to create more opportunities with puck possession. 

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The Stars blew two one-goal leads while losing overtime quicker than they did in Game 1. Statistically, they came out on a mission to play physically, losing the battle (again) 31-27 but showing that they can also play tougher when required. Even though each team had nine giveaways, the Golden Knights continued to collect double-digit takeaways, this time finishing the game with 12; the Stars are 4-6 in games when their opponent has ten or more takeaways. 

Pete DeBoer Dallas Stars
Pete DeBoer, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

We could spend all day dissecting the numbers and analyzing game footage. However, some of the most telling statistics are the basic ones. Whether winning faceoffs, being physical, protecting the puck, or making saves, all those elements combine to win games. Even though the Stars are limiting the Golden Knights’ chances, they must defend the high-danger areas and capitalize on their own opportunities, or this could be a short series. 

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As Dallas prepares to host Game 3 on Tuesday night, all eyes will be on the Stars to see how they respond to being down 2-0 in a series for the first time this postseason. Puck drop is at 8:00 pm EST.