We’ve made it to the last four teams. In the Eastern Conference Finals (which are being played in Edmonton), the upstart New York Islanders take on the heavily-favoured Tampa Bay Lightning. In the Western Conference Finals (also being played in Edmonton), the Dallas Stars face-off against the Vegas Golden Knights. Given how the regular season played out, no one would have been too surprised to see the Bolts and the Golden Knights among the last standing. As for the Stars and the Islanders, well, by now we should have learned to expect the unexpected.
Dallas Stars 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0, DAL Leads Series 1-0
After both the Stars and the Golden Knights had to survive seven game series with the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks respectively, it was perhaps not all that surprising that the quality of play was a bit uneven in the opening match-up of the Western Conference Finals. The two teams combined for a meager 50 shots between them, and only John Klingberg was able to beat the two keepers.
Was this the prettiest goal you’ve ever seen? No. Was this game the best played display of hockey I’ve ever witnessed? Also no. But it was intense, and I’m sure Stars fans will be perfectly happy to tell you just how great of a win it was.
Peter DeBoer gave the Game 1 start to Marc-Andre Fleury, which may not have cost the Golden Knights the game but was still a real head-scratcher. Robin Lehner has been exceptional since arriving in Vegas, and he did just win Game 7 of last round’s series with a shutout. Again, it didn’t matter in this one since Vegas couldn’t muster a goal of its own but there’s a good chance this goalie controversy will rage on.
Vegas real problem, as alluded to earlier, is that they have run ice-cold offensively. The Golden Knights have just one goal in the last three games that wasn’t into an empty net, and just two in the last four games. Normally a stretch like that will get a team eliminated, but Vegas are down just 1-0 in this series. There’s still time to figure it out, but Dallas is also a much better team than Vancouver so if they are going to get it together it’s gotta be soon.
New York Islanders @ Tampa Bay Lightning, 8pm ET, Series tied 0-0