Dallas Stars Advance to Cup Final Against the Grain

After Monday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the Dallas Stars have advanced to their first Stanley Cup Finals in over 20 years. Thanks to goals from Stars captain Jamie Benn and forward Joel Kiviranta as well as an overtime blast from rookie Dennis Gurianov, the team has pushed themselves to be victorious in five games over the number one seed in the Western Conference playoffs. 

By just glancing at the stats for the series, one might think that the Golden Knights deserved to win more than just one game. The Golden Knights led the Stars in total series’ shots 166 to 118. The Stars also committed more penalties throughout the series, resulting in more power-plays and opportunities for the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights looked dominant at times: more possession, more chances and more time in the offensive zone. 

One man has been at the heart of the Stars’ efforts to make it to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1999: Anton Khudobin. The goaltender for the Stars has stolen the spotlight from other key players such as Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, as two monstrous performances in Games four and five resulted in 38 and 32 total saves respectively. Out of the 166 shots that the Golden Knights have taken so far in the series, only eight have rippled the back of the net. Khudobin has averaged around 30 saves per game in the series, while allowing an average of two goals per game. 

Simply, the Stars were able to take advantage of the power-plays and attempts on net that they have created throughout the first four games. Las Vegas was inefficient in front of the net while allowing more goals on fewer shots. Khudobin has been the difference-maker for the team in the series, as his hot streak in the net has continued.

Against the odds, Dallas has a spot in the final. They await the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders series in the Eastern Conference Finals. Time will tell if their improbable run will be capped with a cup.