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Missed special teams chances haunt Golden Knights in Game 4

The Golden Knights, trying to come back against the stingy Dallas Stars in the third period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, were handed a gift.

Stars center Jason Dickinson tripped right wing Reilly Smith after creating a short-handed chance, giving the Knights a five-on-three power play for 1:10 Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

They couldn’t capitalize despite getting three shots on goal and lost 2-1 to fall behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

The failed power play ensured the two teams finished even at special teams despite the Stars taking five penalties to the Knights’ four.

“We’ve got to win that special teams battle,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think we tied it tonight, which isn’t good enough when we’re on the power play more than they are.”

The Knights entered Saturday plus-two on special teams for the series.

They had another strong start in Game 4, as defenseman Alec Martinez gave the team a power-play goal 7:44 into the second period. It was the Knights’ third straight game with a power-play goal.

The penalty kill started strong, too. The Knights killed their first three penalties to improve to 8-for-8 in the series and give them 22 consecutive kills.

The streak ended soon after. Stars captain Jamie Benn took advantage of a Brayden McNabb holding penalty to give Dallas its first power-play goal of the series with 1:09 left in the second period.

The five-on-three gave the Knights a chance to pull ahead on special teams, but they couldn’t beat Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin. He kept seeing pucks and sliding through his crease to make easy saves on long-distance shots.

The three stops he made on the five-on-three were from 29, 31 and 52 feet away. Defenseman Shea Theodore also hit the crossbar from the left point trying to slide the puck backdoor to center William Karlsson.

Khudobin made two more saves — from 31 and 48 feet away — before the Stars settled things back down five-on-five. The Knights had missed their best chance to pull ahead on special teams and tie the game.

“He’s doing a good job being able to see the puck,” Smith said. “Where we are right now, we just have to keep putting pucks on net and trying to find rebounds.”

McCrimmon fifth for GM of year

Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon finished fifth in the voting for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award, which went to the New York Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello.

McCrimmon made several significant moves to get the team into the conference finals for the second time in three years. He fired coach Gerard Gallant and hired DeBoer in January. He also traded for forwards Nicolas Roy, Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins, Martinez and goaltender Robin Lehner.

Lamoriello, Julien BriseBois (Tampa Bay), Jim Nill (Dallas) and Joe Sakic (Colorado) finished ahead of McCrimmon.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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