Friday featured two Game Sevens that couldn’t have been any different. The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche traded blows, with goals coming from ex-Senators and unexpected places, and defence being optional during some periods of play. Meanwhile, watching Vegas yesterday was like trying to watch a team solve an escape room together. With a group that talented, it’s only a matter of time, but you never knew if the clock might just run out on them.
Dallas Stars 5, Colorado Avalanche 4 (OT), DAL wins series 4-3
A hat-trick? Fantastic. A playoff hat-trick? Wild. A playoff hat-trick in Game 7? Beyond your wildest dreams. All of that, despite being a 24-year-old undrafted rookie from Finland playing in your 14th career NHL came? That’s a story Joel Kiviranta will be telling for the rest of his life.
the Finnish call of Kiviranta's OT winner is so iconic pic.twitter.com/bDpUGKDxEM— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) September 4, 2020
Replacing the grizzled Andrew Cogliano, Kiviranta scored three goals, including a game-tying goal with less than five minutes left and the overtime series winner, to help the Stars emerge victorious over the Avalanche. Ex-Senator Vladislav Namestnikov had two goals, including a go-ahead goal with 4:40 left in the third-period that he surely thought was the game-winner.
The Avalanche were playing with their third goaltender, and without important depth players like Erik Johnson, Matt Calvert, and Joonas Donskoi. Despite that Nathan MacKinnon’s squad looked like the better of the two teams throughout much of the series, but couldn’t put it away despite MacKinnon’s 25 points in 14 games being the most since Wayne Gretzky’s performance in the 1993 playoffs. Fun fact? Kiviranta’s game seven hat-trick is the first since Gretzky’s in the conference finals in that same year.
All-in-all, it’ll be exciting to continue to watch Miro Heiskanen — who is second in playoff scoring (!!!!!) with 21 points in 16 games — and John Klingberg as they match up against the vaunted Golden Knights.
Vancouver Canucks 0, Vegas Golden Knights 3, VGK wins series 4-3
Shea Theodore was the only player on the Golden Knights that was able to beat Thatcher Demko on 130 shots on goal, 174 unblocked shot attempts, and 37 high danger shots total via NST— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) September 5, 2020
The final score both fits and doesn’t fit this game. On one hand, the Golden Knights outshot Vancouver 36-14 and had a 4.3 xG (all-situations) per Natural Stat Trick. On the other, Thatcher Demko’s herculean effort deserves so much praise, and he leaves the series with a 0.985 save-percentage thanks to this Shea Theodore goal (feat. happy Mark Stone):
Massive goal from Shea Theodore (@stheodore17) deep in the third of #Game7! #StanleyCup— NHL (@NHL) September 5, 2020
: https://t.co/7Y8gJCVDaw @NHLonNBCSports
: https://t.co/14OmSAEveP @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/xsRdTYe5nH
Dallas is going to be much more of a threat than the young Canucks, and it’ll be fascinating to see who comes out on top.
New York Islanders @ Philadelphia Flyers, Series tied 3-3, 7:30pm EST start
It’s at the point where I think you either want Pageau’s Islanders to lose here and guarantee the Senators a higher first-round pick, or you want them to win the Cup for the extra third and for Pageau’s sake. Let us know what side you’re on in the comments!