Published Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 | 4 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 | 9:46 p.m.
Trailing by two goals in the third period against a team known for holding leads, it would have been easy for the Golden Knights to pack it up and call it a night. Instead, they pulled out the most impressive comeback of the season.
Mark Stone supplied the game-tying goal and Max Pacioretty provided the winner, part of three goals in a wild six-minute span for Vegas, turning a two-goal deficit into a 5-4 regulation victory against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The third period turned on its head in a hurry. After about nine minutes of the Stars successfully defending their lead and stifling the Vegas offense, they scored a goal of their own, which looked like it could be a dagger. Joe Pavelski faked a slap shot that wristed a missile by Laurent Brossoit for his second of the game at 8:56 to give the Stars a 4-2 lead.
It took Vegas 63 seconds to make it a one-goal game again. Michael Amadio positioned himself at the left circle and after collecting Keegan Kolesar's pass with his skate, settled it and ripped it into the net to bring Vegas within a goal at 4-3.
That set the stage for the captain to add one to his personal highlight reel. Off the rush Dylan Coghlan a soft offering at the net, but the rebound kicked right out to the charging Stone, who blasted the puck over Braden Holtby, bardown and in.
Then Pacioretty provided the winner, tapping in a loose puck in front of Holtby and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. It was his seventh goal in eight games this season.
They allowed three power-play goals to the Stars in the first two periods — one each from Jason Robertson, Tyler Seguin and Pavelski — to put themselves in the position of needing a comeback. Goals from Stone and Jonathan Marchessault in the second period though, kept it close.
After Dallas' third goal, which came on its 10th shot, Vegas pulled goalie Robin Lehner in favor of Brossoit, which drew a surprisingly loud cheer from the T-Mobile Arena crowd. Brossoit allowed just the goal to Pavelski, and finished with 12 saves in relief to pick up the victory.
Vegas finished with a dominant 45-23 lead in shots on goal.
Penalty kill letting Golden Knights down through two periods vs. Stars
The Golden Knights entered the night with the eighth-best penalty kill in the league. By the end of the second period it was the 22nd-best.
Vegas coughed up two more power-play goals in the middle frame, but dominated the contest outside of that. Add it all up, and it was still a 3-2 Stars lead through two periods at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday.
Just like special teams decided the first period, they were a big factor in the start of the second. The Golden Knights' tally won't go down as a power-play goal as it came seven seconds after it ended, but it might as well have been one. There was a strong zone entry, and a terrific pass from Alex Pietrangelo down low to Mark Stone, who buried his second of the year, and first non-empty-net goal 19 seconds into the period.
Then the Stars power play took over again, and Vegas had no answer. They scored on their first chance of the second period just three seconds in after Dallas won the faceoff and set up Tyler Sequin for a tip-in, then Joe Pavelski deflected in John Klingberg's point shot on the next power play.
Dallas scored three power-play goals in three opportunities on three shots.
Other than Stars' power plays, the game as all Golden Knights. They outshot the Stars 22-7 in the second period, and with the net empty after a Dallas power play, Jonathan Marchessault scored to bring the game to 3-2. Dallas is 8-0-1 when leading after two periods, but Vegas was far from done at the second intermission.
Vegas led 32-12 in shots on goal through two.
Special teams put Golden Knights in early hole against Stars
Special teams were the difference in the first period Wednesday: The Golden Knights didn't score on their chances, while the Dallas Stars capitalized on theirs.
Dallas scored the only goal of the period on its only power play, while Vegas went 0-for-2 with 1:48 gone of its third. The Stars led 1-0 at T-Mobile Arena after one.
A Nicolas Hague hook at the 8:12 mark put the league's fifth-ranked power play to work and the Stars did not miss. They moved the puck up to the point to Jason Robertson, who waited out Nicolas Roy's challenge and fired a wrister from range that wound its way through traffic and into the net at 9:30. Official stats measured the shot at 53 feet and it gave Dallas a 1-0 lead.
Vegas was already 0-for-1 with the man advantage, and an 0-for-2 followed soon after on a power play where the Golden Knights had more giveaways (3) than shot attempts (1). The Golden Knights had one more power play, but the period ended before John Klingberg's penalty did. They'll have 12 seconds of carry-over to prevent an 0-for-3 start to the night.
The Stars had just five shots on goal to the Golden Knights' 10, but still led after the first.
Golden Knights look to build game against surging Stars
The Dallas Stars aren't exactly considered an offensive team, but they've had no trouble putting the puck in the net lately, and that poses quite the challenge for the Golden Knights tonight.
The Stars have won seven in a row, with 25 goals in that span, fueled by a scorching-hot top line. They haven't sacrificed defense in that stretch, though, and the Golden Knights will have their work cut out for them in Dallas' first trip to T-Mobile Arena this season at 7 p.m.
"It seems like the past couple of games you watch them score some goals for sure," Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore said. "From our game perspective, I think we're starting to turn the corner with having guys back. I think it's going to be a different test when we were in Dallas and we had kind of a limited lineup. It's going to be a fun game."
The Stars started the season just 6-7-2, looking like last season's playoff miss was the real deal after reaching the Stanley Cup Final in the 2020 bubble, besting the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final along the way. A poor season last year, followed by a rough start this year, didn't inspire much confidence in Dallas.
The the Stars started winning and didn't stop, pushed along by strong goaltending and defense, which is their usual recipe for success. But their top line also started clicking, and Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson have turned into one of hockey's best lines. During their seven-game win streak, those three have combined for 15 of the team's 25 goals and 29 total points.
Gone are the days where Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are leading the way, as the youth of Hintz (25) and Robertson (22) have begun their take over with the ageless Pavelski (37) guiding the way and leading the team with 19 points.
"He's a guy that keeps defying the odds," Golden Knights coach and former Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said of his old San Jose captain. "He keeps showing everybody what he's done his whole career, which is 'doubt me and I'll prove otherwise,' and that's what he's doing."
And the usual Stars' identity is still there. They've allowed 59 goals this season, tied for fourth-fewest in the NHL and just nine over their past seven games.
It will be a different game from when the Golden Knights went to Dallas in October, as Vegas was hobbled with injuries and the Stars had yet to find their groove. Tonight will feel much like the promised rematch of the 2020 conference final and yet another big test for the Golden Knights.
"They're big; they're heavy; they're skilled; they've got defenseman that can really get up in the rush," DeBoer said. "And when they're getting good goaltending like they are lately, they're a real tough out."
Robin Lehner is expected to start in net for Vegas after picking up a victory to support one of the Golden Knights' best defensive outings of the season. He did not play in Dallas earlier this year, and will be making his first appearance against the Stars since the playoffs two years ago.
Vegas is 7-2-0 all time in the regular season against the Stars but have played just three times at T-Mobile Arena with a 2-1-0 record.
TV: TNT (DirecTV 245, Cox 1018, CenturyLink 1108)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-145, Stars plus-125; over/under: 5.5 (minus-120, EVEN)
Golden Knights (14-10-0, 28 points; 5th place, Pacific Division)
Coach: Pete DeBoer (third season)
Points leaders: Chandler Stephenson (22)
Goals leaders: Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith (10)
Assists leader: Chandler Stephenson (13)
Expected goalie: Robin Lehner (3.02 GAA, .910 save percentage)
Stars (13-7-2, 28 points; 5th place, Central Division)
Coach: Rick Bowness (third season)
Points leader: Joe Pavelski (19)
Goals leader: Roope Hintz (11)
Assists leader: Miro Heiskanen (13)
Expected goalie: Braden Holtby (2.18 GAA, .928 save percentage)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty—Chandler Stephenson—Mark Stone
Mattias Janmark—Nicolas Roy—Evgenii Dadonov
William Carrier—Keegan Kolesar—Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague—Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore—Zach Whitecloud
Brayden McNabb—Dylan Coghlan
Robin Lehner, Laurent Brossoit