Stars follow familiar script of responding to Game 1 OT loss to Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said he doesn't want his team to make a habit of being in this situation, but the Stars have shown an amazing ability during the NHL playoffs to respond to early adversity.
Including Friday night's 4-3 defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Stars have opened all three playoff series with an overtime loss.
They came back to beat Minnesota in six games in the first round and then survived a seven-game endurance test to eliminate Seattle. And now the Stars are down 1-0 to the team that put together the Western Conference's best regular-season record.
“The good news is the other two ended the right way, so that's what we hope for,” DeBoer said. “But you’ve got to win some overtime games, too, in the playoffs. You can’t go 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 in the playoffs in overtime, so that’s something that we’ve got to get fixed quickly.”
Jason Robertson, who had a goal and an assist in the opener against the Knights, said being able to draw on the experiences of rallying in the first two series should serve the Stars well. The teams meet again in Game 2 on Sunday in Las Vegas.
“I'm not going to sit here and say it's going to be easy,” Robertson said. “I'm sure the other team has acknowledged the fact that we've done it the previous couple of series and that we were able to respond the right way. It's only going to get harder, and we're all going to have to dig deeper.”
The Knights have their own experiences with overcoming adversity during this postseason.
They had a dreadful performance in a 5-1 loss to open the first-round series against Winnipeg and slept-walked through the first period of Game 2 before coming back to beat the Jets in five. One of those victories came after squandering a 4-1 third-period lead before winning in double overtime.
The following series, Edmonton scored first in each of the first five games, but Vegas still emerged as the victor in six. And even Friday night, the Knights again allowed the game's first goal and twice gave up third-period leads, including giving up a goal from Dallas' Jamie Benn with 1:59 left to force overtime.
“I think our guys do have that short memory, so to speak, and are able to reset and refocus,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “A veteran group should be able to do that. We've played through a lot of different things this year, whether it's injuries, the goaltending situation's been well-documented, we just keep playing.”
The Knights haven't relied on their stars such as Jack Eichel and Mark Stone to perform every night and Friday night was a perfect example of that. Stone assisted the OT winner, but he and Eichel otherwise were left completely off the score sheet.
Vegas has won because of its defense and depth. That defense has allowed the Knights to get multiple victories from five goalies. The latest is Adin Hill, who is 4-1 this postseason after replacing Laurent Brossoit, who was injured in Game 3 at Edmonton.
As for the depth, late-season acquisition Teddy Blueger scored what nearly was the winning goal midway through the third period. The overtime winner came from Brett Howden, who until this season had never scored a playoff goal and appeared in only three postseason games.
“It can’t always be the stars or the guys that you would expect,” Cassidy said. “That’s what’s been good about our team. Different people step up in key moments. It’s the time of the year where you've got to embrace it. Raise your hand if you had Howden in your pool tonight in overtime.”
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Mark Anderson, The Associated Press