Based on recent results we expected the Western Conference Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars to be close. And the teams haven’t disappointed. In the 11 matchups prior to this series, nine of them were decided by one goal. Dallas won four one-goal games when the clubs met in the 2020 conference final and two of three regular season meetings this year were one-goal affairs. So I guess it wasn’t a complete shock that the first two games were decided by a goal with both going to OT. And the best team in the West got the jump winning both. Not much has separated the teams in the past and goals have been hard to come by. In the past 13 meetings the teams combined for more than five goals just twice with the UNDER going 10-2-1 in that span. And with Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger having better numbers on home ice we’re likely to get another tight one Thursday when the clubs tangle in Game 4.
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NHL Playoffs Schedule for Thursday, May 25
Western Conference Finals – Game 4
Vegas at Dallas, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
NHL Playoffs Picks for Thursday, May 25, 2023
There’s a lot to be said about playoff experience and several Vegas players have plenty of it with the team competing in the postseason for the fifth time in its six-year existence. And the games pile up when you keep advancing, which Vegas has to the semifinal round in four of those five playoff seasons. Jonathan Marchessault, who scored the game tying goal late in regulation in Game 2, and William Karlsson have played 80 postseason games with the franchise. Defensemen Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb have each played more than 70 playoff games.
When designated starting goalie Laurent Brossoit went down with an injury in the Edmonton series, the Golden Knights didn’t panic. After all they used five different netminders during the regular campaign and each enjoyed a fair amount of success. For Vegas, and Dallas for that matter, it’s more about the system than the player. Both clubs are disciplined and take few penalties, reasons why they are playing this late in the year.
Adin Hill has done a phenomenal job in net for the Knights posting a 2.28 GAA and .930 save percentage in seven games. He was thrown into the fire against the high-powered Oilers in the previous round and nearly stood on his head stopping over 93 percent of the shots he faced. If you’re looking at playing a same-game parlay backing Hill on his total number of saves looks like a worthwhile gamble. In desperation mode you can expect the Stars to throw everything but the kitchen sink Hill’s way, and he’d probably stop that too.
I’m sure Vegas would like to have more goals but you can’t argue with the results. And they took advantage of the few chances they had in the first two games. Dallas is a structured defensive squad as well, but Vegas was able to bury its best chances on home ice. Six of their seven goals in the first two outings came on high-danger chances and their shooting percentage in those situations is 33.3, a number you’d think is not sustainable.
As long as the game doesn’t go to overtime the Stars have a chance. They were within a few minutes of knotting the series holding a 2-1 lead late in the third period. A turnover in their own end, however, proved costly for the Stars when Marchessault cashed it in from the slot to tie the game. Chandler Stephenson then won it just 72 seconds into OT. Dallas had the lead after 20 minutes in the opener but coughed it up. Jamie Benn’s tally with 1:59 left in regulation sent it to overtime where the Knights scored 95 seconds in for the 4-3 victory. The setback dropped Dallas to 0-4 in games that lasted beyond regulation.
A bit surprising is Dallas struggling to score. They finished seventh during the season with 3.41 goals per game and averaged 3.71 goals in the Seattle series. Playing on home ice should help and with a few breaks the game is within their reach.
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