Ross James/ALOST


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

DALLAS — The Dallas Stars were not facing elimination tonight, but many surrounding the team acknowledged that their Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was a must-win. As despite seeing their opponent play the more desperate, attack-minded hockey, the Stars withstood that, got on the board early and closed the game with the urgency that a must-win game would dictate.

Captain Jamie Benn scored on Dallas’ first shot of the game, and Mason Marchment’s goal early in the third was the game-winning goal in the Stars’ 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers to tie the series at 1-1. Jake Oettinger made 28 saves for the Stars, who now are 5-1 this postseason in games following a defeat, which they suffered in overtime on a Connor McDavid goal in overtime on Thursday.

The momentum the Oilers seized with that Game 1 win carried over to the start of tonight’s game, as they outshot the Stars 16-4 in the first period, knocking the Stars back on their heels. If it wasn’t for Benn’s fourth goal of the postseason early in the frame, as well as Oettinger in goal making one breathtaking save after another, the Oilers, who tied the score 44 seconds after Benn’s opener with Connor Brown’s first goal of the playoffs at the 4:23 mark, might have been able to run away and hide early.

“I think the first period, for whatever reason, we were tentative,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’d talked about playing with a Game 7 mindset and I think our intentions were in the right place, but we looked like we were waiting for something to happen. I thought we kind of regrouped at the end of the first and decided to get to our game. I loved the second and third, I thought we were excellent.”

After allowing 16 shots on goal in the first period, the Stars allowed just 13 in the second and third periods combined. Neither team was able to score in the second period, setting up a tense-ridden third period with momentum of the series in the balance.

Dallas was able to pounce early in the third, when Marchment redirected a shot from the point by defenseman Ryan Suter, which fluttered towards goal before the deflection squeaked inside of the right arm of Edmonton goalkeeper Stuart Skinner and into the net.

“Obviously getting the lead [in the third period] was critical. That allows you to stay above them and manage the puck and not try to push outside your comfort zone trying to score,” DeBoer said. “Since Game 1 against Colorado when we blew the 3-0 lead, I think we’ve been really locked in on those situations. We’ve done a really good job.”

Esa Lindell fired home an empty-net goal from beyond the red line to seal the victory for the Stars, who now head on the road for Monday’s Game 3. The Stars, the best road team in the league during the regular season, are 5-1 away from American Airlines Center in the postseason, including winning all three away games in their last series against the Avalanche.

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Tags : Dallas StarsEdmonton OilersNational Hockey LeagueStanley Cup Playoffs

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