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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Stars overcome goalie’s great effort

Updated April 27, 2024 - 11:25 pm

Logan Thompson did all he could.

The Golden Knights goaltender made numerous spectacular saves on breakaways, odd-man rushes and the penalty kill. He did everything in his power to keep the Knights in a game they had no business being in Saturday.

But the Stanley Cup playoffs are results-oriented. Thompson’s Herculean effort ended up short.

Right wing Wyatt Johnston scored his second goal with 3:38 remaining in overtime to lift the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 win over the Knights in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at T-Mobile Arena.

Thompson tied his career high with 43 saves in his third ever playoff start but suffered his first postseason loss. He bought enough time for the Knights to rally from a 2-0 deficit in the second period but his team never took the lead.

The Stars now trail in the series 2-1. Game 4 is at T-Mobile Arena on Monday.

“(Thompson) was the only reason we had a chance halfway through the game,” captain Mark Stone said.

The Stars played like their backs were against the wall.

Dallas, the top seed in the Western Conference, dropped the first two games at home thanks to the Knights’ stout defense in front of Thompson.

Desperation kicked in for the Stars on the road. It showed.

Dallas had an 18-7 edge in shots through 20 minutes after peppering Thompson from all angles. Thompson stopped the first 11 shots he faced before Johnston scored the Stars’ first goal with 8:49 remaining in the first period on their 12th shot.

“(The) start was unacceptable and we should be better than that,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Thompson saw another 15 shots in the second period. He again only let one get through, as defenseman Miro Heiskanen scored on a 3-on-2 to put Dallas up 2-0 just 5:25 after the first intermission.

The Knights couldn’t generate any offense of their own at five-on-five. But a brief spell of four-on-four hockey got them going. Defenseman Brayden McNabb cut the team’s deficit in half with 9:20 remaining in the second period, just seven seconds after left wing William Carrier and Stars captain Jamie Benn received matching roughing penalties.

The Knights then tied it playing four-on-five hockey.

Center Jack Eichel scored a short-handed goal with 6:10 left in the second period right after Thompson made an impressive save on Dallas center Roope Hintz.

“We weathered it because of Logan,” Cassidy said. “(He) gave us every chance to get back into the game, which we did.”

The Knights couldn’t get another goal past Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger, who finished with 32 saves.

Johnston ended up deciding things when he scored from a sharp angle to give Dallas life in the series. It was a disappointing result for the Knights after their rally. But it was hard to argue it wasn’t deserved, given the Stars finished with a 27-4 advantage in high-danger scoring chances.

“They took it to us. We had no business being in that game,” McNabb said. “LT stood on his head and saved us and allowed us a chance.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Road dominance

The Knights and Stars were two of the NHL’s best home teams this regular season.

Naturally, the road team has won all three games this series.

Dallas’ 26-10-5 record at American Airlines Center was the best mark in the league. The Knights went 18-17-6 at T-Mobile Arena after going 7-3 at home last postseason.

The first team to win at home may end up being the one that advances to the second round.

2. Fourth line struggles

The Knights’ identity line had a rough night.

William Carrier, center Nicolas Roy and right wing Keegan Kolesar were outshot 22-3 in 8:48 at five-on-five and were on the ice for Johnston’s first goal.

The line is know for its forecheck and physical play, but it found itself defending Dallas’ top line of Johnston, Hintz and left wing Jason Robertson most of the night.

3. Lineup changes ineffective

Cassidy made a few lineup changes Saturday.

He moved Brett Howden to second-line left wing with center Chandler Stephenson and Stone. It was a line that dominated in the playoffs last year, but it was outshot 24-10 in Game 3.

Tomas Hertl slid down the lineup to replace Howden next to center William Karlsson and right wing Anthony Mantha. That line struggled as well and was outshot 24-13.

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

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