The Dallas Stars had a chance to return to the Western Conference Finals by hosting the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Instead, they self-destructed in a 4-0 Golden Knights win, led by captain Jamie Benn who was sent off for an unruly penalty less than two minutes into the game. At the end of the game, the Stars pulled their starting goaltender, they lost a forward to injury, had another extended period with another unruly play and the second period ended early as fans threw objects at ice.
The Golden Knights have taken a 3-0 series lead and can clinch their second Stanley Cup Final appearance with a win at Dallas on Thursday night.
How the Dallas Stars self-destructed
Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault scored 71 seconds into the game on the Golden Knights’ first shot.
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Then Benn made it worse.
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He knocked down Golden Knights captain Mark Stone. Benn then ducked and cross-checked a slippery stone in the face and neck area at 1:53 of the first period. Officials on the ice imposed a five-minute major penalty and it was upheld after a review, leaving the Stars without their fourth playoff scorer for the remainder of the game.
Benn had 33 regular season goals and 11 points in 16 playoff games. He could face additional discipline from the league.
“He made a mistake. Nobody feels worse than him,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. “Fortunately, Mark Stone is fine. We will live with the consequences, whatever they are. We lived with them tonight and we will live with them in the future if there is another additional discipline.”
Ivan Barbashev scored on the five-minute power play and William Carrier scored 17 seconds after the penalty expired to give Vegas a 3-0 lead. That led DeBoer to retire goaltender Jake Oettinger (three goals against on five shots) for the third time in the playoffs.
All-star forward Evgenii Dadonov left the game with a lower-body injury after colliding with teammate Roope Hintz and did not return. DeBoer had no post-match updates.
Dallas’ Max Domi picked up a 14-minute penalty late in the second period in a fight with Nicolas Hague. Stars fans threw objects on the ice, forcing officials to end the period early and move the final 22 seconds to the start of the third period.
“I think we all have to be better to get out of this hole,” DeBoer said.
What did the Golden Knights do right?
They scored first for only the fourth time in the playoffs and didn’t need to come from behind as they are the league lead eight times.
“We did it by playing the way we want to play, so that’s the encouraging part,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Barbashev, a trade deadline acquisition and a former Stanley Cup winner, had one goal and two assists. That gives him 13 points in 14 games this playoffs.
Carrier and Alex Pietrangelo scored their first playoff goals, and Adin Hill had his first career playoff shutout.
But Brett Howden, who scored in overtime in Game 1, left Game 3 early with a lower-body injury. Cassidy said he didn’t believe it was serious. “We decided not to push,” Cassidy said.