No. 1 Golden Knights vs. No. 3 Stars
8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS
Dallas leads best-of-7 series 2-1
The Dallas Stars will try to put the Vegas Golden Knights on the brink of elimination when they play Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday.
Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime to give the Stars a 3-2 win in Game 3 on Thursday in Edmonton, the hub city for the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
Teams with a 3-1 lead are 288-29 (90.9 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including 10-0 this postseason. Since the conference format was adopted for the 1981-82 season, teams with a 3-1 lead in the conference finals are 34-1 (97.1 percent).
“We expect them to come out similar to how they came out in Game 2 when they were down,” Dallas center Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s important that we try to play these guys 5-on-5 and I like our chances that way. It’s been a good series so far and I don’t expect a lot to change.”
The Golden Knights are 4-1 in games following a loss in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“You start inching toward elimination, everything gets heightened,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said.
Here are 3 keys to Game 4:
1. Stars defensemen up in the rush
When Dallas has been in control, in particular during the first two periods of Game 1 and the second period of Game 3, a big reason has been its defensemen joining the rush.
The Stars are averaging 2.58 points per game from defensemen in the playoffs, up from 1.85 per game during the regular season.
“The big thing for us is the offensive-zone time,” Dallas defenseman John Klingberg said. “That comes from the ‘D’ joining the rush but also being able to read the play and keep the puck in the offensive zone to spend more time there and grind the other team down.”
2. Beating Khudobin
The Golden Knights have had at least 40 shots on goal in five games this postseason; they’ve scored two or fewer goals in each of those games, including in Game 3, when Stars goalie Anton Khudobin made 38 saves on 40 shots.
“We are getting quality chances, that’s what the numbers say,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got to stick them into the net. You can’t coach the puck into the net, but you can coach making it tougher on the goalie. That’s an area we have to concentrate on: more traffic.”
3. Scoring first
The team that scored first won the first three games. Vegas is 10-1-0 when it scores first in the playoffs; Dallas is 7-2-0.
“It’s been a key component through the first three games,” DeBoer said. “Our game plan is to put them in a hole more than we have the first three games and make them get out of that comfortable structure that they can get into when games are tied or they’re ahead.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — Mark Stone
Alex Tuch — Chandler Stephenson — Nicolas Roy
William Carrier — Nick Cousins — Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Unfit to play: Tomas Nosek
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark — Joe Pavelski — Denis Gurianov
Joel Kiviranta — Roope Hintz — Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano — Jason Dickinson — Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak — Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera — Joel Hanley
Unfit to play: Stephen Johns, Ben Bishop, Taylor Fedun, Radek Faksa
DeBoer said Nosek is doubtful after the forward was injured in the second period of Game 3. … Stars coach Rick Bowness said Faksa, injured in the third period of Game 3, is unfit to play. Cogliano, who hasn’t played the past four games, could replace Faksa.