NHL: Western Conference Final Game 2 recap

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Dallas Stars' Joe Pavelski (16) checks Vegas Golden Knights' Alec Martinez (23) during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Western Conference final, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo courtesy of Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP.

After being shut out 1-0 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final by the Dallas Stars, the Vegas Golden Knights responded in Game 2 with a 3-0 shutout of their own to tie the series at one game apiece.  

The two teams battled through a scoreless first period when Vegas center Paul Stastny parked himself in front of the Dallas net and tipped in a pass from Max Pacioretty to get the Knights on the board at 4:53 of the second period. From there, the previously dormant Vegas offense came alive as center William Karlsson and left-winger Tomas Nosek each scored at 8:24 and 14:32 of the second period, respectively. The three goals Vegas tallied in the second period would be all the team needed to secure the Game 2 victory and even the series at 1-1.  

Dallas Stars goalie Anton Khudobin (35) watches as Vegas Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy (10), Paul Stastny (26) and Max Pacioretty (67) celebrate a goal during the second period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Western Conference final, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo courtesy of Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP.

Vegas is looking to build on their encouraging Game 2 performance as they got outstanding goaltending and some much-needed depth-scoring. Goalie Robin Lehner, who Vegas acquired at the deadline for draft picks, has turned out to be the MVP of the playoffs so far for the Knights. In 13 games this postseason, Lehner has gone 9-4 with a .924 save percentage and a 1.84 goals-against-average. Lehner’s save percentage and GAA are both the best marks of any remaining starting goalies, and his nine wins are second only to Andrei Vasilevsky of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, Karlsson scored for the first time in over five games while Pacioretty tallied an assist for the first time in that same span. If Vegas hopes to hoist the Stanley Cup, they’ll need those two to have more performances like they did in Game 2.  

There aren’t many positives for Dallas to take from Game 2, so they’ll likely look to simply turn the page and reset for Game 3. Of concern for the Stars though is that, after allowing three goals in less than 10 minutes, goaltender Anton Khudobin was pulled from the game and replaced by Jake Oettinger who stopped all five shots he faced. With Dallas starter Ben Bishop currently sidelined with a lower body injury, the Stars will need to rely on Khudobin heavily to perform better if they hope to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Miro Heiskanen, the star young defenseman who leads Dallas in scoring this postseason, has also been held without a point in this series so far.  

Game 3 is on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  

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