Round 3, Game 4 Preview: Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Will the Stars join the Hurricanes in getting swept in the Finals? Or will they be catching another flight to Vegas?

Round 3, Game 4 Preview: Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Credit: Tim Heitman / Dallas Stars

It's "do or die" time in Dallas. For the first time all postseason, the Dallas Stars are facing elimination outside of Game 7. With a loss, the Vegas Golden Knights will advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers, who completed their own sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes last night. With a win, the Stars will live to fight another day.

It'll be a tall order for Dallas after an embarrassing performance in Game 3 from the Stars, their captain, and the fans. Speaking of the captain, Jamie Benn was suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety. Forward Evgenii Dadonov will also miss the game due to injury.

As a result, the Stars announced this morning that they have recalled forwards Mavrik Bourque and Rhett Gardner from the Texas Stars, who were eliminated in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs last Sunday. Great(?) minds think alike?

It remains to be seen whether or not Bourque or Gardner will see the ice tonight, and if they do, it will likely be with sheltered minutes. But in a series that has gone wrong in so many ways, you have to think that Pete DeBoer is willing to try anything to keep his team's Stanley Cup dreams alive, albeit barely.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Mavrik Bourque (45)
Rhett Gardner (49) – Max Domi (18) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Mason Marchment (27)  – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Frederik Olofsson (42)  –  Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)

Ryan Suter (20) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Thomas Harley (55) — Joel Hanley (44)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Now, before you flip out, these are the morning skate lines, in which Joe Pavelski was absent (Joel Kiviranta was not in the initial line rushes, according to Saad Yousuf, but later cycled in). So I'm not sure I would take much stock in them as far as the actual lineup for the evening.

That being said, assuming Pavelski plays, we still might see him split off from the top line and partnered with Max Domi and another forward, likely either Mason Marchment or Joel Kiviranta. I'm not sure I'd expect Bourque to stay on the top line in his stead, but like I said, nothing should be off the table for DeBoer.

Other options (especially if Pavelski is out) include a 11-7 approach, with Colin Miller sliding back into the lineup. Other options don't include a goalie change – Jake Oettinger will start, full stop.

Vegas Golden Knights Lineup

Ivan Barbashev (49) – Jack Eichel (9) – Jonathan Marchessault (81)
Reilly Smith (19) – William Karlsson (71) – Nicolas Roy (10)
Brett Howden (21) – Chandler Stephenson (20) – Mark Stone (61)
William Carrier (28) – Theodor Blueger (53) – Keegan Kolesar (55)

Alec Martinez (23) - Alex Pietrangelo (7)
Brayden McNabb (3) - Shea Theodore (27)
Nicolas Hague (14) - Zach Whitecloud (2)

Adin Hill (33)
Jonathan Quick (32)

No lineup changes expected for the Golden Knights. Would kind of be silly to while up 3-0, to be honest.

Keys to the Game

Goaltending. He's played six fewer games than Sergei Bobrovsky, but Adin Hill actually leads goaltenders this postseason in SV% with a .940 and is coming off of his first career postseason shutout. Jake Oettinger has, uhh, not been good since Round 1, but he has posted a .953 SV% in his three career playoff games facing elimination. Will Oettinger rise to the occasion again, or remain a shell of his usual self?

Stay Disciplined. From the Benn cross-check to the Max Domi 10-minute misconduct, the Stars were down a man quite a few times in Game 3, which they'll want to cut down on tonight. They also have the better special teams, which means Vegas will want to keep things clean on their end as well. As we saw last night with Florida's game winner, sometimes a single power play goal makes all the difference.

Just win, baby, win. Everyone has been throwing out the series stats 3-0 leads, namely how only four teams have lost a series after leading 3-0 and none of them in the penultimate round. That's all just noise – the most important thing for Dallas to do is to focus on one game at at time. Win this one, on home ice, and then you can start worrying about the next one.