EDMONTON — Denis Gurianov scored on a one-timer during a power play 3:36 into overtime, and the Dallas Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Monday night to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000.
The Stars forced overtime in Game 5 with two goals in the final 10:06 of regulation. They closed out the Western Conference Final after Zach Whitecloud was sent off for delay of game for knocking the puck out of play.
Anton Khudobin had 34 saves for Dallas, facing only one shot in overtime. Captain Jamie Benn and Joel Kiviranta, a rookie like Gurianov, got the Stars even with goals in the third period.
“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.”
The Stars are 5-0 in overtime this post-season. They also won 3-2 in Game 3 against Vegas, when Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into OT.
“We always know that it might take the whole game,” Tyler Seguin said. “We’re a confident group.”
Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith scored for Vegas, and Robin Lehner had 23 saves.
Smith put Vegas up 2-0 just 15 seconds into the third, scoring his first goal in 11 games. His wrist shot from the top of the right circle came at the end of an odd-man rush that followed Lehner’s kick save at the other end on a shot by Seguin.
“This game, a lot like the rest of the series, we just could never get that next goal to extend it. It was 2-0, they got the 2-1 goal,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “You have to give them credit. They won the net fronts in both ends.”
Dallas finally got on the board when Benn scored for the third game in a row. Esa Lindell had the puck behind the net after Benn won a faceoff, then pushed it out front off Radulov’s stick before Benn turned and knocked it in.
Seguin had a one-timer from the middle of the left circle with the Stars on a power play with just over five minutes left. Lehner secured the puck, not allowing a rebound chance for Benn, who was just in front of him.
Still skating with the man advantage, Kiviranta converted a quick backhander off a loose puck after defenceman John Klingberg’s long shot into traffic. It was the first point for Kiviranta since his hat trick with the overtime winner in the Game 7 against Colorado in the second round.
The Stars had entered the game with a 3-1 series lead — like they did in the second round against the Avalanche before getting extended to seven games.
After the Golden Knights failed to score on three power-play opportunities in the second, Smith’s goal gave them a two-goal lead when Khudobin was unable to stop an another quick shot — like he had in the opening minute in each of the first two periods.
Stephenson got the lead for Vegas 8:14 into the first, using a forehand-backhand move to get the puck under and through Khudobin’s legs. Stephenson was on the break in front of the Stars defence after a nice pass from Shea Theodore.
After Stephenson scored, the Golden Knights had some of their biggest hits in the series. Ryan Reaves took down Blake Comeau midway through the first, and a few minutes later slammed Lindell hard into the boards.
In between those jarring hits, Vegas came close to getting another goal. Alec Martinez tried a wraparound shot to Khudobin’s left and Mark Stone had a rebound that led to another one — but Lindell knocked down Max Pacioretty could get his stick on the puck.
Paul Stastny took a shot right at the start of the second period for Vegas, but Khudobin was able to put his glove down. In the opening seconds of the game, Nate Schmidt’s one-timer was gloved by Khudobin, who was partially screened and still made the save.
NOTES: Seguin had two blocks only seconds apart on the first Vegas power play in the second period. … Benn had another good scoring chance skating in front of the crease midway through the second. But he stuffed his stick and the puck into the right skate of a sprawling Lehner. … Gurianov also had a good chance in the second, but his shot went off the Lehner’s upper body, then ricocheted off and over the crossbar.
The Stars wait to find out who and when they play in the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay has a 3-1 series lead over the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final. Game 5 of that series is Tuesday night.
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