It was a heartbreaker of a Game 5 for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Stanley Cup dream is officially over for the Vegas Golden Knights, who lost 3-2 in Overtime to the Dallas Stars as their elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs was confirmed.
Vegas lost this series in five games with the Stars crowned worthy Champions of the Western Conference, being presented with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after the game.
It was a tough and bitter pill to swallow for the Golden Knights, who at one point looked like they were on the cusp of forcing a Game 6.
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Then, following a scoreless second period, Reilly Smith fired a beautiful shot over the glove of Khudobin seconds into the final frame to put the Golden Knights firmly in the driving seat.
However, as was the case throughout this series, the offense then dried up for the Knights and it gave Dallas a golden-laden path back into the game.
All of a sudden the Golden Knights were swimming against the tide, and they were wiped out 3:36 into OT when Denis Gurianov scored the game-winner on the PP after Zach Whitecloud was sent to the box for Delay of the Game.
It was absolute heartbreak for the Golden Knights who failed to live up to lofty expectations in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year, and a huge off-season now awaits this franchise.
But, for now, let’s revisit a brutal Game 5 by breaking it down period-by-period…
Vegas had struggled to set up screens in-front of the red hot Anton Khudobin in the first four games of this series, and that’s something they tried to correct early in Game 5.
It was then Lehner’s turn to make a big save before the Golden Knights landed the first punch of the night.
In his own zone, Shea Theodore saw Chandler Stephenson in on the rush and fired a sublime, pinpoint pass to the forward who got in behind the defense before beating Khudobin with a deke.
The Golden Knights, as they did all series, was controlling and dominating puck possession and they were also completely stifling the Stars’ offense.
Vegas outshot the Stars 14-9 in the first period.
It was more of the same in the middle frame as the Golden Knights continued to dominate and control play.
However, Dallas gifted Vegas three power plays in the middle period and they were unable to cash in on any of them.
Denis Gurianov also rang a shot off the post while William Carrier again set up an excellent screen in-front of Anton Khudobin.
If you don’t convert on your power plays then you are asking for trouble and the Golden Knights left the door open for Dallas going into the final period.
Granted, it was a brilliant start to the third for Vegas after Paul Stastny chipped the puck to Reilly Smith to start the transition game, and Smith saw that Anton Khudobin was prepared for the pass across to Jonathan Marchessault and instead opted to fire a shot up high.
That was as good as it got for the Knights, however.
At 9:54 in the period Stars Captain Jamie Benn continued his Conn Smythe level of play, spinning in close before firing home a wrist shot past Robin Lehner.
It was a huge moment in the game and it ended up shifting the momentum firmly in Dallas’ favor.
Tyler Seguin tested Lehner with a one-timer before the Golden Knights were dealt a near-fatal blow.
With 3:47 to go in regulation and with Dallas on the power play, the Stars showed Vegas how to get bodies to the net.
John Klingberg let a shot go from the point and Joel Kiviranta was planted right in-front of Lehner to scoop up the rebound and put the puck home to send the game to Overtime.
The Dallas Stars were 4-0 in games that went beyond regulation in the postseason, and that wasn’t a good omen for the Vegas Golden Knights.
And so it proved when Zach Whitecloud went to the box for Delay of Game, leading to the Stars going on the power play for the fourth time in the game.
With 3:36 played in OT, Dallas delivered the knockout punch when Denis Gurianov took a dish from John Klingberg before ripping a wicked one-timer past Robin Lehner for the game-winner and the goal that ended the series.
It was a brutal loss in five games in the Western Conference Final for the Golden Knights, who were expected to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Let’s go over some notes and stats from Game 5…