Dallas Stars defeat Edmonton Oilers, tie series at 1-1

Dallas Stars defeat Edmonton Oilers, tie series at 1-1

ByABC News

May 26, 2024, 12:49 AM

    DALLAS -- After finding a much-needed opening, the Dallas Stars made sure Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers couldn't do the same.

    Mason Marchment's early third-period goal allowed the Stars to gain a firm grip and limit the Oilers to just five shots in the final frame. The result was a 3-1 series-tying win Saturday in Game 2 of the Western Conference final at the American Airlines Center.

    "I think we just got to our game," Marchment said about why the Stars were able to shut down the Oilers in the third. "When we play our game, we're a hard team to play against when we do the right things at the right times."

    One of the conversations coming out of the Stars' 3-2 double-overtime loss Thursday to the Oilers was how they let McDavid find the time and space for two openings, one of which led to the game-winning goal.

    After Game 2, the discussion shifted to how the Stars tied the series while effectively silencing the four players who came into Saturday leading the NHL in postseason points.

    McDavid, who is second with 23 points, was held to one shot. Draisaitl, who leads the playoffs with 25 points, had two shots and saw his 13-game points streak come to an end. Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard, who has 21 points, finished with three shots. And as for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has 17 points this postseason? He didn't record a single shot over his 18:47 of ice time.

    Piecing together what might have been their strongest defensive performance of these playoffs, however, was something that took time.

    Dallas took a 1-0 lead just 3:39 into the first period when captain Jamie Benn scored on a 2-on-1 only to then have Edmonton's Connor Brown grab his first goal of the postseason less than a minute later.

    Fending off the Oilers was the priority for the remainder of the first period with Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced while his team only mustered four shots.

    "I rather get work than sitting there and then all of a sudden, they get 2-on-1's and breakaways," said Oettinger, who finished with 28 saves. "Sometimes, those are even harder -- the games you get 16 shots and 16 chances compared to 40 shots."

    Going from four shots in the first to 11 shots in the second allowed the Stars to gradually find the offensive cohesion that allowed Ryan Suter to fire a shot from the left point that Marchment deflected under Stuart Skinner's right arm for a 2-1 lead less than four minutes into the third.

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    Even with their one-goal lead, the Stars remained aggressive by finishing with 10 shots while holding the Oilers to half that amount.

    A detail that's become a hallmark of a Stars playoff run that has allowed them to reach the conference final for a third time in five years has been goal prevention.

    They've allowed 2.33 goals per game which is the fourth lowest of any team in the playoffs and the fewest allowed of the four remaining teams.

    Stars coach Peter DeBoer said his team's performance against the Oilers goes back to a lesson they learned in the second round when they played the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars had a three-goal lead only to lose in overtime for what was then their sixth consecutive Game 1 loss to open a series.

    "Getting the lead, it was critical. That allows you to stay above them and manage the puck and not try and push outside your comfort zone trying to score," DeBoer explained. "I think since Game 1 against Colorado when we blew the 3-0 lead, I think we've been really locked in those situations and have done a really good job."

    What might have been the defining moment came in the final two minutes of the third. By that point, Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch had already pulled Skinner which led to Esa Lindell scoring an empty netter with 2:03 left in the third.

    Knoblauch pulled Skinner again with 1:41 remaining to create a 6-on-5 that went to a 6-on-4 once Benn was called for hooking with 1:30 left. The Oilers had less than a minute with the two-skater advantage as Evander Kane received a slashing penalty with 47 seconds remaining.

    The Oilers still had a 5-on-4 with the empty net yet struggled to not only get a shot on net but also faced difficulty getting set in the Stars zone. And when they did get a shot off, there was a Stars player in the way which is why they finished with 22 blocked shots.

    Both Marchment and Oettinger were measured when talking about the Stars' defensive effort.

    Especially when it came to McDavid.

    "Guys are choosing to be on the D-side and when you have the best player of all time probably on the other side, those are the decisions that can make or break with them scoring or not," Oettinger said.

    Marchment echoed a similar sentiment.

    "Like Jake said, he's the best player in the world," Marchment said. "It's going to take a full team effort and I thought for the most part we did a great job tonight."

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