Ready for Prime Time, Stars Look to Continue Success

Depth has been a key factor for Dallas’ playoff run. Vegas needs to find a go-to solution.

Another day, another typical Dallas Stars game. The first game was score early and raise the defensive wall, followed by a second game of just not showing up. Thursday night was the get outshot, but score off the rush while letting the netminder eat a lot of rubber type of Stars game.

Props to Jamie Oleksiak for his breakaway tally, but the Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov goals were not what you would call high danger scoring chances. Or were they?

In any event, had the Vegas Golden Knights dominating the expected goals battle.

With last change, Dallas was able to get the matchups that they wanted, which effectively turned Vegas into a three line team. Tomas Nosek left the game in the second, but even prior to that point, the Golden Knights’ fourth line was ineffective at best.

Meanwhile, the Stars top line - a reunited “Big 3” - dominated play matched primarily against the Paul Stastny line. Rick Bowness did shake up the rest of the lineup, and much of it was ineffective. Corey Perry replaced Denis Gurianov to play along with Joel Kiviranta and Roope Hintz, and losing the speed on right wing hurt their performance.

Jason Dickinson playing with Radek Faksa has been tried throughout the year, and the results have been poor. Together, they magnify each other’s limited offensive strengths while negating the defensive prowess that they show individually.

Faksa missed one shift at the end of the third period after a play that appeared to jam his wrist. He wasn’t on the bench to start overtime, so there is the possibility that he is “unfit to play” for Game 4. If Faksa has to draw out, Andrew Cogliano should be ready to go, but it might not hurt to give Perry a one game breather in any case.

Anton Khudobin appeared to tweak something during his heroics at the end of the third period, but the word at this point is that it’s a non-issue.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn (14) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Roope Hintz (24) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Mattias Janmark (13) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Corey Perry (10)
Jason Dickinson (18) - Radek Faksa (12) - Blake Comeau (15)

Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Joel Hanley (39) - Andrej Sekera (5)

Anton Khudobin (35)

Vegas Golden Knights Lineup

Jonathan Marchessault (81) - William Karlsson (71) - Reilly Smith (19)
Max Pacioretty (67) - Chandler Stephenson (20) - Mark Stone (61)
Alex Tuch (89) - Paul Stastny (61) - Nicolas Roy (10)
William Carrier (28) - Nick Cousins (21) - Ryan Reaves (75)

Alec Martinez (23) - Shea Theodore (27)
Brayden McNabb (3) - Nate Schmidt (88)
Nick Holden (22) - Zach Whitecloud (2)

Robin Lehner (90)

Keys to the Game

Breakouts. Vegas maintains their cycle game by activating their defense. This makes them susceptible to odd-man rushes. The Stars need to take advantage, getting as many as possible and by finishing on the ones they do get.

Netfront. Dallas scored off of the rush in Game 3, but they lost the possession battle. Unless the plan is to ride Khudobin each game, the Stars need to establish some offensive zone time and work their way to the front of the net.

Roll Four Lines. The Stars are at their best when each line carries part of the load. Vegas has three offensive lines, with a fourth line that plays physical, but doesn’t have the skill to handle any Dallas line that they can’t bog down. The Golden Knights rely on that reckless energy, and it permeates through the other lines when it works. When it doesn’t work, it turns Vegas into a top heavy team without a go-to finisher.