Now, it’s up the Dallas Stars to regain their mojo – not just in the win column, but also on the scoresheet.
As the Stars and Golden Knights resume their Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday in Edmonton, the momentum appears firmly on the Vegas side even though the best-of-seven series is tied at one win apiece.
The Golden Knights are coming off Tuesday’s dominating 3-0 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, and also left the Stars on the hunt for some offensive touch.
Dallas, which scored 42 goals in a 10-game stretch, has just one in two clashes to start this round. The Stars have gone 117 minutes and 24 seconds without lighting the lamp, and look much like the regular season club that struggled to score.
“I still personally think this is more our style of game,” said forward Tyler Seguin, who has not registered a point in the last six games. "Game 1, we had a lot of [offensive-zone] time. We controlled most of the play. [In Tuesday’s game], we didn’t, and they responded.
“We’re going to have to look at film and do a better job at their blue line, especially. We were trying to make kind of cute plays.”
Dallas – which was also one of the league’s best defensive squads in the regular season, second overall – can come out victorious in low-scoring affairs, but not with performances similar to what happened in the Game 2 loss. The Golden Knights took advantage of Dallas' lack of discipline, inability to win faceoffs and shortfall of competitiveness in one-on-one battles.
Then again, the Golden Knights have proven time and time again they can make teams take penalties and look slow. And now by putting some of their offensive struggles in the rear-view mirror – this is a team that scored only four goals, two into an empty net, in the previous four games – they believe they can take control of the series.
“We were snake-bitten for a while there. I think that everybody was gripping their stick a little tight,” forward Chandler Stephenson said. “We’re at our best when we have that swagger and are making plays. Tough to defend. It was nice to get that mojo back and even the series.”
“When we made the plays and put up the quality chances we did against Vancouver in Games 6 and 7 and you don’t get rewarded for it, it’s human nature, it rattles you a little bit,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer added. “[On Tuesday] we got our game back, and I think once we got that first goal, I thought we looked like we normally do, which is making plays and finding space and sticking pucks in the net.”
That includes keeping pucks out of their net, too. Goaltender Robin Lehner, who has definitely claimed the No. 1 slot from Marc-André Fleury, is reaching rare air this year. He netted his second consecutive shutout and has four goose eggs in this year’s run. The last time a goalie collected five shutouts in a single playoff year was 2004.
“We outcompeted them and played a hell of a game,” Lehner said. “It made it a little bit easier for me.”