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Knights-Stars recap: History doesn’t favor Dallas comeback

Updated April 24, 2024 - 11:27 pm

KNIGHTS-STARS SERIES AT A GLANCE

Golden Knights lead 2-0

■ Game 1 — Knights 4, Stars 3

■ Game 2 — Knights 3, Stars 1

■ Game 3 — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena (KMCC-34, TBS, truTV)

■ Game 4 — Monday, TBD at T-Mobile Arena (KMCC-34)

■ Game 5* — Wednesday, TBD at American Airlines Center (KMCC-34)

■ Game 6* — May 3, TBD at T-Mobile Arena (KMCC-34)

■ Game 7* — May 5, TBD at American Airlines Center (KMCC-34)

*If necessary

RJ’s three stars

3. Knights defenseman Noah Hanifin — Hanifin almost helped the Knights take the lead in the second period with a tremendous pass that Brett Howden deflected just wide. The defenseman took matters into his own hands later on in the frame. The puck bounced to Hanifin at the point and he fired it past goaltender Jake Oettinger for the game-winning goal. Hanifin was also once again sound defensively in 21:59 of ice time.

2. Knights center Jack Eichel — His empty-net goal clinched the victory, but his assist to Jonathan Marchessault late in the first period may have been the play of the game for the Knights. Eichel was dangerous throughout and demanded constant defensive attention. He had five shots on goal, tied for the game high, and helped the Knights defend their lead in the third period.

1. Knights goaltender Logan Thompson — Thompson only faced 21 shots on goal in his second playoff start, but he improved to 2-0 this postseason because he stopped almost all of them. The most impressive of his 20 saves came in the second period when he denied Dallas center Wyatt Johnston in tight.

Key play

Eichel’s pass to Marchessault for an easy finish late in the first period proved to be a massive turning point for the Knights.

Dallas came out strong and brought all sorts of pressure early. The Stars got a power-play goal from left wing Jason Robertson to take a 1-0 lead with 3:13 remaining into the first, but Eichel and Marchessault made sure it didn’t last.

Left wing Ivan Barbashev forced a turnover and got the Knights going the other way with a great stretch pass to Eichel. Eichel controlled the puck, drew defenders close and got Oettinger off balance before dropping a perfect pass to Marchessault for a tap-in goal that tied the game with 1:51 left in the first.

Key stat

12: Marchessault had a goal and an assist Wednesday to extend his point streak in the playoffs to 12 games dating back to last postseason.

The reigning Conn Smythe winner for playoff MVP has 10 goals and eight assists over that span. Marchessault was last held off the scoresheet in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against Dallas last season on May 19.

Notable

History is not on the Stars’ side.

They are the fourth team since 2010 to enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in its conference only to fall behind 2-0 in the first round. None of the first three came back to win the series.

The 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning went on to get swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets and the 2017 Chicago Blackhawks were swept by the Nashville Predators.

The 2012 Vancouver Canucks were eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

To add injury to insult for Dallas, forwards Radek Faksa and Mason Marchment left Wednesday’s game in the third period with apparent injuries and did not return. Coach Pete DeBoer did not have an update on either player after the game.

Knights quotable

We did our job on the road. Now we have home-ice advantage on them. They’re looking at it as, not backs against the wall, but all the pressure is on them. We have to go home and bring the same effort we have in the last two games and see where the chips fall.”

— Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar

Stars quotable

“They’re the Stanley Cup Champions. They’ve got everyone figured out. They figured out everyone last year, too, so we’re not alone in that mode.”

— DeBoer on if the Knights have Dallas figured out

Adam Hill Review-Journal

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