NHL: Western Conference Game 5 Recap

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Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger (29) makes a save on Vegas Golden Knights' Max Pacioretty (67) as Andrej Sekera (5) defends during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Western Conference final, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Chandler Stephenson of the Knights opened the scoring at 8:14 of the first period, and Vegas held on to that lead until early in the third when Knights’ forward Reilly Smith padded the Vegas lead 15 seconds into the period. All Vegas needed to do was hold on for 20 more minutes. However, Jamie Benn and Joel Kiviranta had other plans as the two each scored to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime. At 3:36 of the extra frame, Denis Gurianov of the Stars ripped a one-timer from the hash marks past Robin Lehner to send Dallas to the finals for the first time since they won it all in 1999.  

Dallas is advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in their history because of stellar goaltending and big-time performances from their top two lines. After spending his entire career as a backup, 34-year-old Anton Khudobin was called upon in the playoffs after Stars starter Ben Bishop went down with a lower body injury in the qualifying round. Since then, Khudobin has been the best goalie in the postseason with a 12-6 record, a .920 save percentage and a 2.62 goals-against-average, all of which rank best or second best among goaltenders in the conference finals. Meanwhile, their top forwards Benn and Alex Radulov scored eight goals each in the playoffs while Gurianov and Joe Pavelski scored 9 apiece. Defensemen John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen have been excellent as well, with 16 and 22 points respectively. The only cause for concern right now with Dallas is that their top line center Tyler Seguin has really struggled offensively, with only two goals and four assists in the team’s 20 playoff games.  

Vegas also had an excellent season. After getting off to a slow start and firing head coach Gerard Gallant, the team turned it around and wound up winning nine playoff games. All-in-all, a successful season for Vegas, who has now made it to the conference finals in two of their three seasons in franchise history.  

Dallas will now wait to find out their final opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning currently hold a 3-1 series lead over the New York Islanders, and they play Game 5 on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  

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