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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Stanley Cup defense on brink

Updated May 2, 2024 - 8:26 am

DALLAS — Alex Pietrangelo is not the only reason the Golden Knights are on the ropes.

But for the second straight game, a loss of composure from the veteran defenseman led to a backbreaking goal for the Dallas Stars.

Pietrangelo’s second-period roughing penalty on center Tyler Seguin led to a game-winning, power-play goal from left wing Jason Robertson and the Knights lost Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Stars 3-2 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

Dallas now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2. The Knights are one loss away from their Stanley Cup championship defense ending in the first round.

Pietrangelo’s penalty came after he hit Seguin in the face with his right arm with 4:41 remaining in the second period following a puck battle between the two in the Knights’ defensive zone.

The play was ruled a major penalty at first but was reduced to a minor after a review. Robertson scored 1:13 later to give the Stars a 3-2 lead.

It was Pietrangelo’s second costly penalty in as many games. His second-period roughing penalty in Game 4 led to a game-tying power-play goal by center Wyatt Johnston.

“A veteran player should know better,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Pietrangelo’s penalty on Seguin came 7:24 after Seguin was sent to the box for an illegal check to the head on Knights defenseman Shea Theodore.

Cassidy said the team didn’t like the hit but needed to channel its emotions better. Pietrangelo was not available to the media after Wednesday’s game due to time constraints with the Knights traveling back to Las Vegas.

“You’re going to be upset, but that’s playoff hockey,” Cassidy said. “There’s controlled aggression out there all over the ice in every series. That’s an area you’ve got to take a number and try to get those things squared away.”

Robertson’s goal was the difference in another tight game between the two sides.

The Knights were held to two goals for the third straight game. Captain Mark Stone scored a power-play goal four minutes into the first period for his first point since Game 1. The Stars responded with goals from right wing Evgenii Dadonov and center Matt Duchene, but left wing William Carrier tied the game with 7:29 remaining until the first intermission.

The Knights’ season now rests on getting a win in Game 6 on Friday at T-Mobile Arena. They lost their first two home games of the series in Games 3 and 4.

“We’ll hang our hats on the fact we’re the defending Stanley Cup champions, so there’s a lot of resolve in that room. A lot of pride in that room,” Cassidy said. “We’ve got to go home and win one game in the playoffs. That’s something we’re certainly capable of. Will it happen? Dallas is going to have a say in that.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Hill’s solid debut

Goaltender Adin Hill started Game 5 after a surprising decision by Cassidy, but he played well.

Hill made 22 saves in his first postseason start since the Knights’ Stanley Cup-clinching win in Game 5 of the Final on June 13. Goaltender Logan Thompson started the first four games against Dallas after Hill went 5-9 his final 15 appearances this regular season.

None of the three goals Hill allowed were his fault. Still, it remains to be seen who will start Game 6 for the Knights. Thompson has a .921 save percentage this series.

2. New lineup, same result

The Knights made other lineup changes as well Wednesday.

Tomas Hertl moved to the top line at left wing while Ivan Barbashev shifted to fourth-line right wing. Left wing Pavel Dorofeyev entered the lineup for his playoff debut on the second line and right wing Keegan Kolesar was a healthy scratch.

The moves failed to make a difference.

Barbashev had an assist on Carrier’s goal, but Hertl was a minus-1 in 20:04. Dorofeyev’s last shift came with 5:59 in the second period as Cassidy elected to play other skaters with the Knights seeking a comeback.

The team also made a swap on the blue line. Defenseman Ben Hutton played his first game of the series in place of Zach Whitecloud, who was a healthy scratch. Hutton and defense partner Noah Hanifin were each plus-1 on Wednesday.

3. Oettinger saves game

Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger made the save of the series in the third period.

Oettinger stopped center Chandler Stephenson on a breakaway with 2:44 remaining to preserve the Stars’ 3-2 lead. Stephenson deked to the left, but Oettinger stayed with him and made a right pad stop.

“He really has the ability to go to another level at the most important time of the game,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That was the third period tonight.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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