Playing in their third game in four nights and on the second half of a back-to-back, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dallas Stars had a rough start to this one. After all, that’s a lot of hockey and some heavy legs on the home team’s bench. Compare it to the Vegas Golden Knights who hadn’t played a game in four days prior to their matchup against the Stars in the American Airlines Center, it was the perfect recipe for disaster.
After 16 seconds, it sure seemed like that was the way things were headed.
Max Pacioretty wasted no time taking advantage of the Stars. Right off the opening faceoff the Vegas team had a lot of jump. They caught Dallas flat-footed and Antoin Khudobin definitely looked like he was not expecting a shot on goal so quickly. In no time, the Stars found themselves in a hole to climb out of.
Luckily, Roope Hintz continued to do all the good things. After the awakening of the goal against, Dallas started to get their legs under them. Hintz had a big heads-up play forcing a turnover near his own blueline. He would hesitate just enough to get Marc-Andre Fleury to open his fivehold to him and Hintz slipped one right through the wickets to tie the game up.
The rest of the first period was played pretty evenly by both teams, and they ended the period tied 1-1. Dallas killed off two penalties in the period while Vegas killed off one. Dallas didn’t look particularly spectacular on the power play (stop me if you’ve heard that one before).
Things got a lot more weird in the second period, though. After opening the period with the left over penalty kill time from the first, Radek Faksa drew another power play chance for Dallas. John Klingberg had a difficult time time with corralling a puck in the neutral zone which led to a turnover. William Karlsson went in on a breakaway with Esa Lindell trying to stop the shot on goal.
He was not only called for hooking on Karlsson, the refs awarded Karlsson a shorthanded penalty shot because he was unable to make a play due to the infraction. Khudobin came out with a big, aggressive, challenging save to keep the game even and the Stars went back on the power play.
The rest of the period was again evenly played, with both teams getting some decent looks at the other’s netminder. Dallas especially gave up some uncharacteristically high-danger chances. Khudobin had to be on top of it tonight, and he generally was.
Vegas finally found a hole in Khudobin early in the third period when Khudobin let a rebound out to his right. Ryan Reaves cut into the open space uncovered and potted the rebound chance home to establish the lead once again for the Golden Knights.
This is one of those nights where a power play goal would have made a tangible difference in the game. Though the Stars got four tries overall, including two(!) late in the third period, they could not get much moving on the man advantage. It was a lot of point shots that Fluery was able to swallow up. There wasn’t a ton of times where they got that shot off and had traffic in front for a redirect or screen.
On a night where Dallas could have pulled a point out of a tough game situation, they were unable to, and their special teams was a big part of the reason why.