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Knights-Stars recap: Important offseason begins earlier than expected

Updated May 5, 2024 - 9:22 pm

Series at a glance

Stars win series 4-3

Game 1 — Knights 4, Stars 3

Game 2 — Knights 3, Stars 1

Game 3 — Stars 3, Knights 2, OT

Game 4 — Stars 4, Knights 2

Game 5 — Stars 3, Knights 2

Game 6 — Knights 2, Stars 0

Game 7 — Stars 2, Knights 1

RJ’s three stars

3. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen — He had a major impact on the game despite not recording a point. Heiskanen played 26:25, a full two minutes more than the next-closest skater on either team. He had three shots on goal, two hits and two blocked shots. He was also on the ice for both Stars goals and finished with a plus-2 rating.

2. Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger — Oettinger settled in this series after a shaky Game 1 and was a major reason why his team advanced. He didn’t allow more than two goals in any of the final six games and stopped 21 of 22 shots he faced in Game 7. Oettinger allowed just one goal in the third period or overtime this series.

1. Stars center Wyatt Johnston — He was tremendous all series long and Sunday was no exception. Johnston put the Stars up 1-0 with 5:26 left in the first period with a tremendous individual effort. He took the puck away in the offensive zone and beat goaltender Adin Hill for an unassisted goal. The 20-year-old finished with four shots on goal and six hits, tied for the game high.

Key play

Radek Faksa’s goal 44 seconds into of the third period.

Faksa, playing for the first time since Game 2 because of an undisclosed injury, returned to provide the game winner and series clincher.

There wasn’t much to the buildup.

Faksa didn’t have room to operate in the offensive zone and decided to throw a backhand shot on net. Hill appeared to have it covered, but the puck deflected off defenseman Alec Martinez’s leg and into the net to give Dallas a 2-1 lead. The Stars never looked back.

Key stat

8-0: Stars coach Pete DeBoer improved to 8-0 all-time in Game 7s, matching the record for most wins in such games in major team sports history.

Famed Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach was also 8-0 in Game 7s.

Longtime NHL coach Darryl Sutter is the only other coach in the NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball with eight Game 7 victories, but he also lost three times in such situations.

Notable

The Knights were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second time.

They lost in Game 7 in both instances. They were also coming off an appearance in a Stanley Cup Final both times and facing a team coached by DeBoer. They lost to DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks in overtime in Game 7 in 2019.

The Knights now begin an important offseason earlier than expected. They have several key questions to answer, like what will happen with pending free agent Jonathan Marchessault.

The defending Conn Smythe winner did not score a goal in any of the final five games of the series. He had just one point and a minus-3 rating in that span.

Knights quotable

“We have a lot of good people in this room and the longer you play, the more you appreciate the people. You obviously like playing the game, but it’s the people that make it fun to come to work every day. It’s an unfortunate part of the business, but there are a lot of good people in here and we’d like to keep everybody together.”

— Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo

Stars quotable

“It’s obviously emotional. So many emotions going back to last year and losing, the mixed emotions. There are so many great people over there that I worked with. I have great affection for them and we were happy for them to win, but we really wanted to win this series. We wanted our turn. We did all the right things all year to get the first seed and then you draw a team like Vegas, which I honestly think has a deeper team than last year. To plow through the adversity of being down 2-0 – there is a lot there to unpack.”

— DeBoer on beating his former team

Adam Hill Review-Journal

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