Updated September 8, 2020 - 10:04 pm
It was more of a bang or a burst than an all-out offensive explosion from the Golden Knights on Tuesday.
With Robin Lehner seeing pucks, that’s all the run support the red-hot goaltender needs.
Lehner notched his second straight shutout and league-leading fourth of the postseason to backstop the Knights to a 3-0 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
The best-of-seven series is tied and continues Thursday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. The Knights have never trailed a best-of-seven series 2-0.
“We were snakebitten for a while there. I think that everybody was gripping their stick a little tight,” forward Chandler Stephenson said. “We’re at our best when we have that swagger and are making plays. Tough to defend. It was nice to get that mojo back tonight and even the series.”
Paul Stastny finished with a goal and an assist for the Knights, who were shut out in two of their past three games. William Karlsson (power play) and Tomas Nosek added second-period goals.
Dallas starter Anton Khudobin blanked the Knights in Game 1 but was pulled after two periods, as 21-year-old Jake Oettinger made his NHL debut in the third.
“When we made the plays and put up the quality chances we did against Vancouver in Games 6 and 7 and you don’t get rewarded for it, it’s human nature, it rattles you a little bit,” Knights coach Pete DeBoer said. “Tonight we got our game back, and I think once we got that first goal, I thought we looked like we normally do, which is making plays and finding space and sticking pucks in the net.”
Lehner finished with 24 saves and extended his shutout streak to 131:44 dating to the conference semifinals.
He joined teammate Marc-Andre Fleury (2018) as the second goalie since 2011 to record four shutouts in a single postseason. Only five goalies in NHL history have more, according to NHL public relations.
“We outcompeted them today and played a hell of a game, so it made it a little easier for me,” Lehner said. “A few good chances. I feel pretty good right now and feel pretty connected with my (defensemen).”
The Knights flipped the script from Game 1 and limited Dallas to 41 shot attempts, tied for its second fewest of the postseason.
Mattias Janmark was turned away by Lehner on a partial breakaway with six minutes remaining in the second period, and Denis Gurianov’s backhander was denied with 11:20 left.
The Stars scored on their first shot in Game 1, but Fleury and Lehner have combined to stop the past 48 shots.
“I think defensively we’ve dug in around both our goalies,” DeBoer said. “I think we take a lot of pride in not giving up a lot. But when there is a chance, they both have come up big.”
Forward Ryan Reaves returned to the Knights’ lineup after serving a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head, and the Knights set a physical tone from the opening faceoff.
The Knights more than doubled up Dallas in shot attempts during the first period (17-8) and finished with a 6-1 advantage in high-danger chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
But it took until the second period for the Knights to finally solve Khudobin, who gave up three goals in a span of 9:39.
Stastny broke the seal at 4:53 when he was left alone in front to redirect a pass from Max Pacioretty. It was the first goal by a forward that wasn’t into an empty net in more than 276 minutes.
Karlsson put the Knights ahead 2-0 when he sent a wrist shot through Khudobin’s legs at 8:24 of the second to snap a 1-for-15 skid on the power play.
Nosek finished off a perfectly executed three-on-one rush with Roy and Stephenson at 14:32 for his second goal of the postseason.
“Game 1 wasn’t our best game. I think maybe our legs weren’t underneath us, we weren’t ready to go,” Stastny said. “But I thought today, the way we came out and played that full 60 minutes was the way we kind of drew up the game plan and the way we’ve been playing all season.”
Game 1 — Stars 1, Golden Knights 0
Game 2 — Golden Knights 3, Stars 0
Game 3 — 5 p.m. Thursday (NBCSN)
Game 4 — 5 p.m. Saturday (KSNV-3)
Game 5 — 5 p.m. Monday (NBCSN)
*Game 6 — 5 p.m. Sept. 16 (NBCSN)
*Game 7 — 6 p.m. Sept. 18 (NBCSN)