Joe Pavelski acknowledges that he values huge playoff goals more as his career progresses. But they all feel the same, and his latest kept the Dallas Stars’ season alive.
“Just really living in the moment,” Pavelski said. “It was a fantastic feeling for sure, and I’m glad we could play another game and try to extend it from there.”
The Stars averted a sweep in the Western Conference Final with a 3-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. Pavelski, 38, scored on a power play at 3:18 of overtime — a one-timer from the centre of the left circle to the far post.
Dallas was without banned captain Jamie Benn, but Jason Robertson scored twice for his first career multigoal playoff game.
“We’re looking for goals, and that’s kind of my responsibility that I’ve put on myself,” Robertson said. “I know these playoffs have been difficult….” I was successful in obtaining the bounces that we need tonight.”
Jake Oettinger made 37 stops two nights after being yanked at 7:10 of Game 3 after surrendering three goals on five shots.
After Braydon McNabb’s high-sticking penalty on Ty Dellandrea, the Stars had the man advantage in overtime. Pavelski scored on a feed from Miro Heiskanen 50 seconds into the power play. They won for the first time in five overtime games this playoffs – Vegas had won the first two games of this series.
It was Vegas’s second penalty of the game, both for high-sticking McNabb. Late in the first period, his penalty on Pavelski opened up the power play, on which Robertson scored his first goal with some deft stickwork.
Pavelski, who is in his 15th NHL season and still searching for his first Stanley Cup, scored his ninth goal in 12 playoff games, but his first in five. He has 73 career postseason goals, the most among current players and the most among American-born players.
“He has no age….” I’ve watched the movie several times. “It never gets old,” remarked Stars coach Pete DeBoer. “He craves those moments and desires to be in those situations.” Always has and nearly always delivers.”
On Wednesday, the NHL penalised Benn for two games for a cross-check with his stick that landed near the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in the opening two minutes of Game 3 on Tuesday night. Benn will also miss Game 5 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
For Vegas, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault scored. Adin Hill’s five-game winning run was halted. In his first professional playoff game, he made 39 saves, including a game-saving stop with his outstretched left leg with approximately two minutes remaining in regulation on rookie Fredrik Olofsson’s swipe attempt.
“Our efforts were insufficient. Closing a series is certainly the most difficult game of a series, therefore it wasn’t good enough from our squad,” Marchessault said. “In overtime, it was still a one-goal game.” It was there in front of us.”
Karlsson and Marchessault are two of six original Vegas players left on the club from the initial 2017-18 season, which saw the Knights compete for the Stanley Cup but lose in five games to the Washington Capitals after winning the opening game.
A night after the Florida Panthers completed a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, Vegas wasted a chance to complete a sweep.
After whacking his stick on the back of Ryan Suter in front of the goal, Marchessault scored on a feed between the Stars defenseman’s legs from McNabb, another original Golden Knight, halfway through the second period.
Robertson’s tying goal came on a bounce off the back board late in the game, just seconds after another of his shots struck the post. That was his fourth goal of the series and sixth in the playoffs after becoming the first Dallas player with a 100-point season this season.
Robertson scored his first goal late in the first period, tying the game at one. He redirected Heiskanen’s attempt from just inside the blue line into the air. Robertson batted the puck free from Hill’s glove and then reached around to swipe the puck into the goal with his stick parallel to the rink.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and wrestling legend Ric Flair were both wearing Stars shirts as they entered the building. Dallas avoided being swept in the playoffs for the first time since 2001 in the second round against St. Louis. Since then, the Stars have played in 21 postseason series.
The Golden Knights struck first once again, but not like the three fast goals in Game 3 that led to Oettinger’s quickest departure ever.
After passing to Nicolas Roy, whose pass through traffic deflected off a Dallas stick before Reilly Smith retrieved it just inside the right circle and fired, Karlsson pushed the puck up and skated to the front of the goal. Only 4:17 into the game, Karlsson’s deflection past Oettinger was his ninth goal of the playoffs.
“There were a lot of rush chances,” Smith, who has been with Vegas from the beginning, said. “I don’t believe we did a good enough job of making things difficult for them.” So we’ll get another chance in two days.”