The NHL Conference Finals are underway as the Western Conference Finals will meet for Game 3 on September 10. The Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights have met in a solid two games so far and I expect another good one on Thursday night. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Golden Knights earned a record of 39-24-8 throughout the regular season. Vegas was able to earn the top spot in the Western Conference through the round robin. The Golden Knights met up with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks in the first two round, knocking them both out to move onto the Western Conference Finals.
Dallas finished out the regular season with a record of 37-24-8. The Stars finished in the third seed in the Western Conference after going 1-2 in the round robin. Dallas went on to knock off the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche to reach here. Now the Stars will look to jump back out to a series lead with a big win on Thursday night.
These two teams have faced off in a strong two games so far. I expect both teams to come out hot in Game 3 as they look to take an important 2-1 series lead. Vegas and Dallas are both looking to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, which will bump up the intensity as this series gets deeper. I believe this should be a great game on Thursday night.
Game 1 of this series was back on September 6. The scoring was opened up by John Klingberg from Jamie Benn and Radek Faksa. Marc-Andre Fleury turned away 24 of the 25 shots he faced, but it was not enough for the Golden Knights to win. Anton Khudobin was able to stop all 25 shots as the Stars took a 1-0 series lead with a 1-0 win.
The second game of the series was back on September 8. Paul Stastny scored the opening goal and added an assist. William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek both scored for the Golden Knights as well. Robin Lehner put up an extremely strong performance after he sat out in Game 1. Lehner stopped all 24 shots as Vegas won 3-0 to tie up this series lead.
These two teams met up twice throughout the regular season. The first game was back on November 25, which the Stars were able to win 4-2 at home. The second game was on December 13, which the Golden Knights took 3-2 in overtime. These two teams met up once more in the round robin, where Vegas won 5-3 in a comeback to help them secure the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights had a strong special team unit throughout the regular season. Vegas capitalized on 22 percent of their power play chances, while only stopping their opponents on 76.6 percent of their power play opportunities. In the playoffs, the Golden Knights have capitalized on 18.5 percent of their power play attempts, while Vegas has killed off 88.7 percent of the penalties against them.
Dallas had a solid special team unit throughout the regular season as well. The Stars were able to score on 21.1 percent of the power play chances and stopped opposing teams on 79.7 percent of their power play attempts. Dallas has been much better in the postseason though. The Stars have put up a 26.3 percent success rate and an 83.3 percent kill rate.
These two teams have been solid throughout the postseason on special teams. The Golden Knights have gone 1-10 on the power play in this series, while Dallas has gone 0-4 through the two games. The Stars need to stay out of the box in this series, while Vegas needs to keep limiting the Stars power play chances. If Dallas can get more power play chances in Game 3, it could help them win on Thursday night.
Robin Lehner will get the start in crease for this one again on Thursday night for Vegas. Lehner went 19-10-5 throughout the regular season. He posted a save percentage of .920 and a 2.89 GAA through those games. In the playoffs, Lehner has earned a .924 save percentage and a GAA of 1.84. Lehner has earned back to back shutouts and will look to dominate the Stars again.
Anton Khudobin will get the nod in the crease for the Stars in Game 3 of this series. Khudobin finished out the season with a record of 16-8-4 as the backup. He put up a .930 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA in those games. Khudobin has done really well stepping up in the playoffs, earning a save percentage of .912 and a GAA of 2.82.
These two goalies have stepped up throughout the playoffs. Lehner earned a shutout in Game 7 against the Canucks and in Game 2 against Dallas. The Stars need to find a way to solve Lehner if they want to take the series lead back. Khudobin has been doing well throughout this playoff run, but the Stars need to give him a little extra help on defense.
Dallas and Vegas find themselves locked up in a 1-1 tie in this series and I expect the Stars to break that tie with a win in Game 3. The Stars have the better special team unit in my opinion, which could help propel them to a win. Lehner has also dominated his last two starts, but I think that his dominance will run out. I expect Dallas to finally break through to earn the series lead.
BetOnline has the Golden Knights listed as a -164 against the money line in this one. This implies that Vegas will win this game around 62.1 percent of the time. I believe that the Stars should not be such big underdogs in this one. Dallas is in a 1-1 series tie against the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals. This game should be closer to even, which gives a lot of value to the Stars.