LAS VEGAS — Ty Dellandrea got the series off to a good start, scoring two crucial goals in the third period in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in the Dallas Stars’ 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
The win kept the Stars’ season alive for at least two more days. Game 6 takes place in Dallas on Monday night.
Dellandrea’s winning and insurance goals also came with another win as he guaranteed Stars captain Jamie Benn will return for Game 6 after being suspended for a counter check against Golden Knights captain Mark Stone in Game 3 in the last two games was.
“It’s a great desperation, we have a lot to offer here,” Dellandrea said. “Our group really came together and supported each other. The boys have improved.
Stars defenseman Thomas Harley set up Dellandrea’s goal, using his racquet to deny the Golden Knights’ approach and passed it to Joel Kiviranta, who then played a diagonal cross-ice pass to Dellandrea for a 1-on-3 rush meant.
Creating time and space was a challenge, but Dellandrea temporarily got both right when he fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. even then? His window began to close as Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo attempted to parry the shot, but the puck deflected off his racquet and sneaked just under Adin Hill’s glove to give the Stars 9:27 to go to create a 3:2 lead in the third round period.
Just under 90 seconds later, Dellandrea scored again, effectively securing Game 6.
Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud was behind the net when he tried to play the puck off the gang, resulting in Stars forward Max Domi picking up a loose puck he was trying to throw into the net when he was pushed from behind. Dellandrea retrieved the rebound and flicked a shot over Hill to double the lead with 7:58 to go.
Dellandrea said after Game 4 that he used his shot more deliberately, which led to him pointing to a scoring opportunity that he felt he should have converted in Game 5.
“It shows how special you are when you’re taken out and it’s like he didn’t care about him,” Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger said of Dellandrea, one of his closest friends on the team. “It’s all about the team. He wanted us to win. When you get a chance to move up, and he did. I’m so proud of him. I keep telling him to shoot. He’s got a great shot.” So I’m glad it was him.
The quest for secondary and tertiary values became a priority for the stars with Benn being suspended and Evgenii Dadonov suffering a lower body injury early in Game 3 which saw him miss the last two games.
Dellandrea’s goals helped close that gap. So did Luke Glendening’s goal in the second period, who now has two goals in 16 playoff games after scoring three goals in 70 regular-season games.
Now add what Jason Robertson has achieved up to this point for the stars in the conference finals. A 100-point scorer in the regular season, he failed to score in the second round. But in the conference finals, he has emerged as one of the Stars’ most consistent players. He scored the first game-winning goal, meaning he was responsible for five of the 12 goals the Stars scored against the Golden Knights that round.
These contributions help ensure the Stars are among the top-placed teams in the playoffs. 16 players scored at least one goal in the postseason – the same number as the Golden Knights.
That’s another reason why Benn’s return could be crucial. That leaves the Stars with a forward who has scored 33 goals in the regular season and had 11 points in 16 playoff games before his suspension.
“Our whole thought process was win two games and bring him back,” Glendening said of Benn. “[We] didn’t want his season to end like this and wanted to give him the opportunity to play again.
Benn’s return for Game 6 on Monday could also result in one of two outcomes.
Either the Golden Knights win the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals where they face off against the Florida Panthers.
Or the Stars even the streak and return to Game Seven with a chance of advancing to their second Stanley Cup Finals in four seasons.
But what makes the stars’ recent successes even more intriguing is the context that comes with teams falling behind in a streak. The Panthers bounced back from a 3-1 first-round hole to anger the Boston Bruins before eventually clinching their ticket to only their second cup final appearance in franchise history.
And there’s also a little bit of the personal experience Stars coach Pete DeBoer has when it comes to comebacks. DeBoer was in charge of the San Jose Sharks as they trailed 3-1 in the 2018-19 playoffs before winning the series in seven games.
The opponent? It was the Golden Knights.
“I don’t think you can compare one show to another,” DeBoer said. “But I know our group and we weren’t happy about being in the hole we were in and they decided to do something about it. Now we roll.”