The Dallas Stars are one win closer to their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
An offensively superior performance in the second period, along with a stout defensive showing in the third period, propelled the Stars to take a 1-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday.
The Lightning had multiple powerplay opportunities in the third period, but the Stars stifled them to win 4-1.
The start of the game was slow as both teams seemed to be fighting Stanley Cup jitters, which is understandable given the relative age of both squads.
The Stars struck first just 5:40 into the game, capitalizing on a costly turnover to give Joel Hanley possession of the puck. Hanley, who played his first NHL game as a member of the Montreal Canadiens on March 20, 2016, came through to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. At 12:32, Yanni Gourde scored his sixth goal of the postseason to nod things up at one goal apiece when a shot ricocheted off a defender’s skate.
But it was all Dallas in the second period, as they went on an offensive tear, scoring two goals, with Jamie Oleksiak and Joel Kiviranta each scoring their fifth goal of the playoffs.
Finally, Tampa Bay started to get more serious on offense, but on the other hand, Dallas also turned it up on defense. The result? They canceled each other out.
Anton Khudobin, who had never started a playoff game prior to this season, was outstanding in net, preventing the Lightning from getting on the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Jason Dickinson scored an insurance marker at 18:42 of the third period to give the Stars a 4-1 advantage.
With the win, the Stars, dubbed “The Comeback Kids” of the playoffs, are three games away from a Cinderella-esque ending. Dallas has not won a Stanley Cup since 1999 when they defeated the Buffalo Sabers in six games, while 2000 was their last appearance in the championship finale when they lost in six games to the New Jersey Devils.
The Lightning will need to rebound in Game 2 before the Stars potentially run away with the series, and hand them yet another postseason disappointment.