Grinding Out Two Points (Stars Gazing; 04.08.23)

Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — A couple of weeks out from their opening games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, both the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights battled in a game on Saturday afternoon clearly representative of what playoff hockey will become once the regular season comes to an end. The very end of the game was something that won’t be a part of the postseason, but, as far as the Stars are concerned, they’re glad one of these post-regulation games went their way.

Roope Hintz scored the only goal in the shootout while Jake Oettinger made a wonderful kick save in the last attempt of the shootout as the Stars came away with a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights inside American Airlines Center The win temporarily puts the Stars in first place of the Central Division, two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche with three games remaining.

Oettinger made 19 saves before the the shootout in his 59th start of the season.

“[The Golden Knights] are arguably the best defense in the league, and they’re not going to give you a lot,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “We didn’t make it tough enough on them most of the night anyway, but you get 80 games in, and you’re not going to complain about wins against good teams. We found a way to get two points which is the important thing this time of year.”

Both of the goals scored in regulation came from checking lines, as Brett Howden scored his sixth goal of the campaign at 14:21 of the first period to give the Golden Knights the lead before Joel Kiviranta answered with his eighth goal of the season at the 12:59 mark of the second.

“It’s just two good teams. We’re both at the top of the West for a reason, and we want to play those guys at some point during the playoffs,” Oettinger said. “They’re a great team, and it’s going to be tight like that during playoffs, so it was a good little way for us and what we have ahead of us.”

Hintz, who missed the Stars win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday due to injury, beat Golden Knights goalkeeper Jonathan Quick during the second round of the shootout for the only goal in the session, and Oettinger capped off the victory with a sprawling save with his right skate off a shot from Paul Cotter, as the puck was stopped by Oettinger’s boot right on the goal line after a deke from Cotter that appeared to give him enough room to slide the puck into the net.

Despite the defeat, the point gained by Vegas clinched home-ice advantage for the Golden Knights during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 27 pictures in total.

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