The Dallas Stars lived to play another day, rallying to edge the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday night. After falling behind early in the first period, the Stars fought off the elimination by coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to score a powerplay goal just 3:18 into overtime.
Despite both teams keeping pace with one another throughout the entire contest, Joe Pavelski was the hero of the night. After sniping his 73rd career playoff goal on the man advantage, he became the NHL’s active leader in postseason goals, breaking a tie with Alex Ovechkin.
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Although the series is far from over, the Golden Knights still have a comfortable 3-1 series lead with Game 5 on home ice at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday. Ultimately, should the Stars hope to return to Dallas for another game, they need to bring the same intense style of play for another 60 minutes. Here are a few takeaways from last night’s overtime win.
Stars Play Their Best in a Must-Win Situation
Immediately after the opening faceoff, the Stars collected hits and shots on goal while occupying the blue paint as much as possible. Considering how important this game was to the club’s season, they had to come out and give it their all because there was a significant chance there would be no tomorrow.
Luckily, even when the Stars fell behind on two separate occasions, they never let the situation get out of hand. Unlike the previous game, which featured careless penalties, the Stars remained composed, taking only a single penalty. Realizing their focus had to be on making plays and creating opportunities, they could put behind their misfortunes and stay competitive to win their first game of the series.
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Even though it is only one win, the Stars proved in Game 4 that they are still one of the best teams left in the playoffs and can handle the pressure of being in the final four. Although the bounces have yet to go their way throughout the series, they banked on their ability to create their own luck and found ways to get more goals than the Golden Knights for the first time.
Jason Robertson Proves He’s the Future Face of the Franchise
After a solid effort with seven points in the opening round against the Minnesota Wild, Jason Robertson failed to score in the second round against the Seattle Kraken, collecting just five assists. As the rumors swirled about a potential injury or issues with his confidence, he finally recaptured his regular season magic with goals in the first two games of the Western Conference Final.
Ultimately, his resurgence made many in the media wonder if he could catch fire and save the Stars’ playoff hopes. Considering the team had its back against the wall in a win-or-go-home Game 4, Robertson collected his first two-goal playoff game to keep the season alive. He was buzzing all night and had one of the best performances of his young career, registering 11 shots and keeping Adin Hill on his toes.
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Furthermore, he finally gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about with a goal in the first period and the equalizer in the second. Considering that team captain Jamie Benn was out serving a suspension, the Stars needed one of their young players to step up, and Robertson was the first to take the baton.
Stars Stay Alive Thanks to Jake Oettinger & Pavelski (Again)
Throughout the Western Conference Final, much of the discussion surrounding the Stars’ 3-0 deficit was about goaltending. Even though the subject has been one of the focal points thus far, in Game 4, Jake Oettinger finally had a bounceback game and stayed competitive with critical saves in all four periods.
Ultimately, he’s one of the main reasons the Stars are still contending for the Stanley Cup. However, despite his numbers through the first few games, he’s been a victim of some favorable bounces for the Golden Knights, which appeared to destroy his confidence. Although he wasn’t perfect in Game 4, he was solid enough to get a win and start to build momentum in his favor for the next game.
While the Stars’ netminder works on his game, his teammate, Pavelski, scored his first goal in five games after setting an NHL record for goals in a series in the previous round. Even though the 38-year-old is not relied upon to carry the Stars’ offensive attack, he has already scored four game-winners this postseason, proving vital to their place in the final four.
Moreover, if he can get going again, his presence on the ice will cause more headaches for the Golden Knights in upcoming games. As has been the case most of the postseason, the Stars continue to find ways to win thanks to performances from their netminder and their aging veteran, who is still chasing his first championship.
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After avoiding a sweep in Game 4, the Stars head back to Las Vegas for a Saturday night contest at 8:00 pm EST. Thus far in the series, both games at T-Mobile Arena have gone to the Golden Knights, with each match ending minutes into overtime. To force a Game 6 on Monday, the Stars must keep chipping away, creating some puck luck along the way.