DALLAS STARS ADVANCE TO STANLEY CUP FINALS

3-2 win over Golden Knights in game 5 seals victory in the Semifinals

Natalie McLaren, Eyes on Owls Section Editor

The winner takes it all! Our hometown NHL team, the Dallas Stars, took the title of Western Conference Champs on Monday night. Winning the series 4-1, the score might reflect an easy battle. But the question is, was it easy

 

The short answer is no. The Vegas Golden Knights have put up a fight for all of the five games, leaving their blood sweat, and tears all over the ice. Ranked number one in the league this season, they are known for being aggressive, quick, and to the point. The Dallas Stars started off the series strong with a 1-0 lead in the first game, with defenseman John  Klingberg getting the one and only goal. But game 2 of the series? Not so much a victory for the Stars. 

 

Vegas took their shot, tying the series 1-1 with a 3-0 victory over the Stars. Dallas’ rough loss could’ve thrown them into a pit for Vegas to steamroll over, and this could’ve had a very different ending. But the team pressed on, determined to see the end. To hold the cup. Losing wasn’t an option.

 

So the next game, game 3, they took matters into their own hands, getting a 2-1 lead in the series, claiming a 3-2 win over the Knights in OT. It wasn’t an easy win, but it was achieved somehow. A little energy back in the Stars way of play, the fight continued in game 4, with a 2-1 lead in the series, making it 3-1 when clinching another win against Vegas. This was it. This was the moment the Dallas Stars had been waiting for. Game 5 was their ticket into the final. Would they accept it?

 

The odds didn’t look good early in Game 5. The Stars were sloppy in play and Vegas took the first goal of the game, breaking the ice for game 5. In the second period, fans waited for revival, but nothing. Consistent, but still sloppy on the Stars’ part. They couldn’t play like this for game 5, it wouldn’t come out to be a win! Period 3 rolls around, and we see the slightest bit of energy from the team. While the Knights are ramping up their gameplay, the Stars start to rise to the occasion. Another goal by Vegas strengthens the Knights’ lead from 1-0 to 2-0, and the pressure continues to go up. But Captain Jamie Benn decided in the middle of the 3rd period that he’s done messing around. He makes a heavy wrist shot while there is chaos in front of the Vegas net, and dumps the puck in, cutting the lead in half. They only have one goal left until they tie up the score. The Stars had multiple chances before the period ended, but their last and final big change was made possible by the work of Corey Perry, the Stars’ right wing. Right by the Knights’ net, he kept the puck in close vicinity to Vegas goalie Robin Lehner, trying to get a goal for his team. But Joel Kiviranta, game 7 saver against the Colorado Avalanche, renewed his lifesaver status by elevating the puck into the Vegas net, tying the score 2-2. Fans hoped that the Stars would get goal 3 in Period 3, but Vegas tightened up and didn’t let any pucks in for the remainder of the period. In order to advance to the Cup Finals in Game 5, the Stars would have to battle in OT once again.

 

Overtime is a stressor in any game, but in playoff hockey, OT looks different than usual. Instead of a 5 minute OT followed by a shootout, OT in hockey acts like a fourth period, the clock set to twenty minutes. The ice is cleaned, and then period four begins, only ended when one team scores a goal. The Stars fought hard for the first couple minutes of the game, goalie Anton Khudobin not giving up. An unfortunate Delay of Game penalty was called on Vegas Golden Knights player Zach Whitecloud, giving the Dallas Stars a powerplay. Fans saw this as a chance to get goal 3, and goal 3 is what they received. Denis Gurianov took control of the puck and made a one-timer that made its way into the net of Robin Lehner. The swish of the net was enough for the Stars to earn their ticket into the Stanley Cup Final, for the first time since 2000. Cheers erupted from the Stars’ bench, everyone jumping out and hugging on another. The team finally held the Western Conference Champion Bowl as they celebrated with their coach Rick Bowness on the ice. “When you’re behind the bench and you see that puck go in and you know you’re going to the Stanley Cup finals, words can’t describe the emotion that comes through,” Bowness said.

 

Captain Jamie Benn has never been past the second round of playoff hockey, so he was beyond ecstatic to reach this victory as team Captain. “It’s been a crazy year, right from the start, but we’ve stuck together as a group and played some fun hockey,” said Benn, who had never before been past the second round of the playoffs. “We find ways to win right now, and that’s all that matters.”

 

Talk about a comeback story. COVID-19 might’ve thrown a wrench in how hockey is played, but the Stars are finding ways to celebrate. “I’ve been in a couple of rinks where we’ve clinched to go to the finals, and it erupts,” interim coach Rick Bowness said. “Tonight, you’re so excited, you don’t even notice. … All you’re thinking about is your team.” (Associated Press, 2020)

 

Their matchup is the Tampa Bay Lightning, from the sunny state of Florida. It took them a little longer to win the Eastern Conference series, as the New York Islanders put up a fight, but Dallas is more than ready to take home the Stanley Cup.”We always know that it might take the whole game,” Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars forward, and Assistant Captain said. “[But] We’re a confident group.” (Associated Press, 2020)

Braxton Baker (Center)

It’s not just the Stars’ coach that’s excited about the win. Fans from all around, including myself are psyched about the victory. I got the opportunity to speak with Braxton Baker, a 5th-grade hockey player (Dallas Stars Elite) and iUP student about how he reacted to the Stars’ getting their pucks’ worth. “I was so excited, I couldn’t believe that they beat Vegas 4-1 in the series!” Baker says. As a player on the Dallas Stars Elite, Braxton gets the chance to play alongside legend Joe Pavelski’s (Dallas Stars Center) son, Nathan Pavelski. Baker says, “I love playing with forward line {Nathan}. He’s so smooth with skating…” “I love that I can learn so much from watching Pavs play on the screen, or right in front of my face {at the Dallas Stars Elite home rink}. I want to be just like him!”

 

Dallas Stars fans and other NHL Western teams are rooting for the Texas team to take it home. The cup is in reach. Is Dallas ready to grab it?

 

*SCORE!*

 

Press, Associated. “Dallas Stars on to Stanley Cup Final after 3-2 Overtime Win over Vegas.” FOX 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth, FOX 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth, 15 Sept. 2020, www.fox4news.com/sports/dallas-stars-on-to-stanley-cup-final-after-3-2-overtime-win-over-vegas.

Schram, Carol. “Dallas Stars Advance to Stanley Cup Final.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 Sept. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/09/15/sports/hockey/dallas-stars-stanley-cup.html.