By: Ryan Gilbert
one playoff round for that matter. They drew a tough hand with their matchups, but played it to perfection to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Here is how they got there and what to watch for in the Stanley Cup Final.
Round-robin tournament: 1-2-0
The Dallas Stars didn’t look too hot in their first three games of the restart. They blew a 3-1 lead by allowing four unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in their opener.
Those third-period struggles carried over into their second round-robin game. They were shut out by the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, to fall to 0-2 in the round-robin tournament. Their third and final game was against the other winless team to that point: the St. Louis Blues.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions put up a fight against the Stars in a low-scoring affair, with the Stars finally getting their first win – albeit in overtime. Joe Pavelski scored with 32 seconds left to tie the game at one, then Denis Gurianov scored in the shootout to help clinch the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
Western Conference Quarterfinal: Defeat Calgary Flames in 6 games
The Stars took on the Flames in a first-round series that seemed unpredictable to many. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the series went seven games with either team winning.
Dallas lost Game 1 3-2, but bounced back with a 5-4 win in Game 2. They fell behind in the series with a 2-0 loss in Game 3, but that was the last Calgary win in the bubble. The Stars won Game 4 in overtime after scoring with 12 seconds left (once again Pavelski was the hero to tie it) to tie up the series.
The Stars won a low-scoring Game 5, 2-1 to set up a chance to clinch in Game 6. It looked like the Flames would force a Game 7 after scoring three goals in less than three minutes early in the first period, Those were the final three goals the Flames scored, however, with the Stars using a five-goal second period to steamroll to a 7-3 win to take the series in six games.
Western Conference Semifinals Recap
Western Conference Semifinal: Defeat Colorado Avalanche in 7 games
The Stars went into the second round as huge underdogs against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche were one of the Stanley Cup favorites and favored to win the series at -225, with the Stars as +185 underdogs.
That didn’t faze the Stars, though.
The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, outscoring the Avalanche 10-5 in the first two games of the series. Colorado got back into it with a win in Game 3, but the Stars took a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 4 to go up 3-1 in the series.
The Avalanche battled back, however. Ben Bishop returned to start Game 5 for the Stars, but the Avalanche didn’t give him a warm welcome back. They scored four goals, including three in less than two minutes, to chase Bishop and they took a 5-0 lead into the first intermission. They went on to win by a final score of 6-3 and won Game 6 with a 4-1 final score to force Game 7.
After blowing a 3-1 lead, it was now win or go home for both teams.
Game 7 was a back-and-forth affair with Dallas taking a 1-0 lead, Colorado going up 2-1 before the end of the first period, and then the teams traded goals back and forth in regulation. The Avalanche actually pulled ahead late in the third period with just 3:40 left, but Joel Kiviranta was the Game 7 hero as he scored just 10 seconds later to tie the game. He then scored again in overtime to win the series for Dallas.
Western Conference Final: Defeat Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games
After taking down a big favorite in the Western Conference Semifinal, the Stars faced an even bigger favorite in the Western Conference Final. The Golden Knights were a -245 favorite, with the Stars at +205 to win the series. Dallas quickly made sportsbooks rethink that.
The Stars and Golden Knights traded shutouts in the first two games, with Dallas winning Game 1 1-0 and Vegas winning Game 2 3-0. That set the tone for a low-scoring series, and low-scoring games are what the Stars are made of.
Dallas won Game 3 in overtime, 3-2, then won Game 4 2-1, setting up a chance to take care of business in Game 5. After nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead against Colorado, they didn’t want to risk that again.
The Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit in Game 5 to score two third-period goals and then win the game in overtime.
The Dallas Stars are now in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2000 and are looking for their second Stanley Cup win in franchise history after winning it in 1999.
Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Final Betting Preview
Dallas Stars players to watch in Stanley Cup Final
First and foremost, the Dallas Stars have their goaltender to thank for their playoff performance so far. No, not Ben Bishop; Anton Khudobin. The backup-turned-starter had a great regular season and has been carrying the Stars in the playoffs.
Khudobin is 11-6-0 with a shutout, .918 save percentage, and 2.67 goals against average in the postseason. He stopped 153 of 161 shots (.950 SV%) with a 4-1 record against the Golden Knights. He would likely win the Conn Smythe if the Stars win the Stanley Cup.
Joe Pavelski has had a few key goals for the Stars throughout the playoffs and leads Dallas with nine goals in 20 postseason games. He is just ahead of Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov, who each have eight postseason goals. Radulov has had a few clutch goals as well with four game-winners.
Jamie Benn is right behind them with seven goals, but has 10 assists for 17 points, the second-most on the team.
The Stars’ leading scorer in the playoffs is actually a defenseman. Miro Hieskanen has 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 20 games.
Stanley Cup outlook: Don’t count out Dallas
After taking down the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, two teams that were heavy favorites, the Stars are likely to be underdogs again in the Stanley Cup Final, assuming the Tampa Bay Lightning finish off the New York Islanders.
The Stars have been able to frustrate their high-flying opposition into playing low-event hockey, resulting in low-scoring games. If they can play their game and keep things up, they’ll be a great Cinderella story to win it all.