Golden Knights 2 – Stars 3 | Vegas faces elimination against draft masters

The series between the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights is fascinating because it pits two premier organizations that are polar opposites when it comes to team building.

No one drafts or develops their youngsters better than the Stars. The Golden Knights collect stars by sacrificing draft picks and prospects. The recipe works, they are the reigning champions.

In uniform Wednesday for Game 5 of this first-round series, the Stars had seven players drafted by the team since 2017, the Golden Knights only one, Pavel Dorofeyev.

View the meeting summary

In the first wave on the power play, Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, Tomas Hertl and Noah Hanifin were all obtained against first-round picks or young players drafted in the first round. Jonathan Marchessault, obtained during the enlargement draft in 2017, was the intruder.

On the other end of the spectrum, Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn, Miro Heiskanen and Jason Robertson, members of the first wave in Dallas, had all been drafted by the club. The only exception: good old Joe Pavelski.

After losing the first two games at home, the Stars bounced back and won their third straight on Wednesday, 3-2. The Golden Knights hadn’t lost three games in a row since 2020 and will face elimination Friday in Vegas.


Stars fans celebrate the team’s victory.

Two key moments to remember from this meeting: a thoughtless penalty from star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo at the end of the second period, which allowed Jason Robertson to score the winning goal on the power play. Pietrangelo, frustrated, gratuitously delivered a violent punch to Tyler Seguin during a battle for the puck. His nose was bleeding, Pietrangelo was lucky to only receive a minor, but he paid dearly for his lack of discipline.

Then, with less than three minutes to play in the third, the Stars goalkeeper, Jake Oettinger, ordinary in the season, extended his pad at the last minute to stop Chandler Stephenson, on a breakaway after having released the opposing defenders, and not least, those of the first Stars duo.

Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy made a bold choice to send Adin Hill in net, even though he hadn’t played since April 18. Hill looked shaky at times, but on the other hand, he made several timely saves. He is not to blame.


Adin Hill

The Stars’ young players contributed greatly to the victory. Logan Stankoven, 21, shunned for a round and a half in the 2021 draft due to his 5’8″, and inserted into the lineup at the end of the season after outrageously dominating in the American League, was one of the best attackers on his team. He skillfully set up his team’s first goal, that of Evgenii Dadonov, and provided several other good scoring opportunities.

At just 20 years old, center Wyatt Johnston was his club’s most used forward, 19:57, and had two assists. He was given the final faceoff at the edge of the defensive blue line with less than 20 seconds left in the third.


Jake Oettinger (29) and Tyler Seguin (91)

Twenty-two players were chosen before him in 2021, and only six of them spent the entire season in the NHL. Johnston amassed 65 points this winter, a performance far superior to that of the first three forwards drafted during this vintage, Matt Beniers, Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson, all of top 5.

Not to mention the first three defenders, Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Harley and Esa Lindell, all products of the organization, and goaltender Oettinger.

An early elimination would hurt Vegas more given the sacrifices made to get reinforcements at the trade deadline. At least they can retain Hertl and Hanifin for several more seasons, worst case scenario.

But let’s not consider the Golden Knights beaten. This is a cruel first round encounter for two of the best teams in the National League, despite the further ranking of Vegas, whose number of points in the season does not do justice to the power of their club.


Leave a Comment