Stars hope to build momentum and take Game 4 in Vegas

League: NHL

Posted on: 29 Apr, 2024 at 01:10 AM

Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Most visitors consider it a big plus if they can break even after spending a weekend in Las Vegas.

The Dallas Stars are already guaranteed that accomplishment after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime Saturday in their Western Conference first-round series. But Peter DeBoer's top-seeded squad, which still trails the best-of-seven series, 2-1, would like nothing better than getting another road win on Monday night.

Ironically, the hero of Game 3 for the Stars was a player not allowed to gamble in Las Vegas.

Center Wyatt Johnston scored two goals, including the game-winner 16:23 into overtime. He doesn't turn 21 until May 14.

"What a player. He still can't get into the casino and play cards," DeBoer said. "He's not old enough. That's unbelievable."

Johnston, who was chosen 23rd overall in the 2021 NHL Draft by Dallas, had 65 points in the regular season, including a team-high 32 goals, so his performance on Saturday was anything but a fluke.

Johnston broke down the right wing and cut around defenseman Shea Theodore before firing a sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle over the left shoulder of Vegas goalie Logan Thompson for the game-winner.

"It's one thing being elite in the regular season," Stars forward Tyler Sequin said, "but to do it in the playoffs at his age, that's great."

Especially considering the circumstances. Dallas would have been staring at a 3-0 series hole if it lost Saturday.

"You don't want to go down 3-0 to the defending Stanley Cup champs," Johnston said. "I think it's that desperation coming out and making sure we're doing all those things that make us successful."

The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead 5:25 into the second period. But thanks to strong goaltending by Thompson, who finished with 43 saves, Vegas rallied to tie near the end of the second period on goals by Brayden McNabb and Jack Eichel, the latter a short-handed score.

"We knew the situations coming into Vegas," Tyler Seguin said. "We know these guys are defending champs from last year and we know how good they are on home ice. Our message was focusing on your next shift."

"There's no doubt we had to be the more desperate team tonight," DeBoer said. "We wanted to come in and plant some seeds of doubt, hopefully, and the best part for me is I think our game is building here."

Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy gave Dallas credit for starting strong on the road despite being down 2-0 in the series.

"They had a sense of urgency that we weren't able to match," Cassidy said. "Sometimes that happens."

Vegas had won six in a row against Dallas dating back to a series-clinching Game 6 victory in last season's Western Conference.

"They took it to us," said McNabb, who finished with a goal and an assist. "We had no business being in that game. L.T. (Thompson) stood on his head and allowed us a chance. We'll learn from it and have a better start in Game 4."

--Field Level Media