Peter DeBoer said it after their Game 1 loss on Friday and again on Saturday: The Dallas Stars have to find a way to win overtime games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Yet there the Stars were again on Sunday, dealing with another overtime loss, their second in a row and fourth of this postseason, and figuring out why overtime has been so difficult hasn’t been easy.
“I mean, I don’t have the answer to that,” the Dallas coach said after a 3-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at T-Mobile Arena.
“That’s part of the playoff journey, the teams that go deep find ways to win in overtime. I really liked our game tonight, thought we did a bunch of really good things, fixed a lot of things from Game 1. I thought Jack Eichel and (Jonathan) Marchessault make a big-time play there to tie it. We respond. Our chance in overtime was as good or better than theirs. We just have to stick them in the net.”
Going back to last year’s playoffs, the Stars are 0-5 in playoff overtime games. They lost 3-2 to the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round.
“Obviously special teams is important and we want to be a good special teams team the whole series” Robertson said after Game 2. “You’ve got to take them when you can because those opportunities don’t come often.”
Heading into this series, the power play looked like a potential tipping point in Dallas’ favor. The Stars had done well on it this season. Vegas had been league-average on the penalty kill against pretty much every team except Dallas.
In the second period, Jason Robertson scored to take the lead for Dallas. That 2-1 score would hold for almost the entire rest of the game. However, Vegas’ push ended up being too much for the Stars.
At 17:38 of the third period, Jonathan Marchessault scored to get the game tied at 2-2. He has been clutch all postseason long and the Golden Knights are (in large part) where they are in the playoffs because of him.
Chandler Stephenson scored just 1:12 into the overtime period to end it quickly for Vegas. It was a great play that allowed the Golden Knights to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Although it was very tough, they were able to win both games at home.
You are never out of a series until you lose one at home. Now, they will shift to Dallas where the Stars will try to turn this thing around. Their crowd will be bumping as their team comes home needing their help. The atmosphere should work in their favor to start.
The Stars have put in so much work to be ready for a shining moment or two. They have had to embrace the details of preparation that come with almost 100 games played this year. They have been diligent in getting themselves into the right position. And they have had to perform when the “wave” comes. You’re not always sure when that moment will arrive, so each player has been challenged to rely on their experience and their gut.
If you do it the right way, you could be a hero forever. If you read it wrong, or your hands don’t do what your mind tells them, then it could be a painful memory for years to come.
Game 2 was a frustrating day at the beach. The Stars did so many things right. They did the work, got the board into the water, and seemed all set to pull off the most gnarly ride possible. Not unlike in Game 6 vs. Minnesota or Game 7 vs. Seattle, the Stars were playing their best hockey. They were so detailed, so smart, so efficient. They had taken the energy out of the Golden Knights and seemed prepared to even the series at 1-1. That would have been huge, because the Stars would have then had a best-of-five series with three games at home, and a ton of momentum to go with it.
“We played a heck of a game tonight, and there are mistakes made and they cashed in,” he said. “They made a real good play. Jack Eichel, that’s a world-class pass.”
The Stars had a good scoring opportunity from forward Wyatt Johnston 28 seconds into overtime. It didn’t go in. Forty-four seconds later, Chandler Stephenson’s rebound shot did.
“If we score on that (Johnston chance), the series is 1-1 but they got the bounce there and scored on that,” Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen said. “So yeah, of course, little details and tough bounces sometimes. But we have to go out there and attack and try to score a goal.”
The Stars aren’t in the greatest spot, but they’re taking solace in the fact that Game 2 was much better than Game 1. Now they’re going home, where they’re 5-2 in the playoffs. Overtime hockey has not been their forte, but they’re confident that they can get back in the series.
“I mean, sure,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve won both games. They held serve at home, we’ve got to go and do the same thing. I don’t think it’s less troubling that we lost both games in overtime. I think the positive piece is that we played a much better game tonight, and if we play that type of game, we’ve got a chance to win when we go home.”
“As kids we all grew up chasing the Stanley Cup and wanting to win it and we have a real good chance with this club in here,” Harley said. “For my dad to come and watch and be a part of it is awesome and it’s something I’ll cherish forever.”
Harley also talks about the two week anniversary of his grandfather’s death and how he will play in his honor.
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