The NHL’s Western Conference finals got off to a thrilling start in Game 1 on Friday night, with the Vegas Golden Knights winning 4-3 in overtime over the Dallas Stars.
Game 2 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN+) promises to bring the excitement again. Can the Stars even things up before the series shifts to their home ice? Or will the Knights arrive in Texas with a 2-0 lead?
To help get you ready for the game, we’ve put together a guide on what to watch from each team, including in-depth statistical insights from ESPN Stats & Information.
Vegas Golden Knights at Dallas Stars
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET | Watch live on ESPN+
Line: VGK -125 | O/U: 5.5
Notes from ESPN Stats & Information
The Golden Knights have trailed in each of the past seven games they have played dating to Game 1 of their series against the Edmonton Oilers. But they have won five of those seven games.
In fact, seven of their nine wins this postseason have been comeback victories — equaling their most for one playoff year in franchise history (also seven, in 2021). Only five teams have recorded more in a playoff season over the past two decades: Colorado Avalanche (10 in 2022), Pittsburgh Penguins (10 in 2009), Dallas Stars (nine in 2020), Carolina Hurricanes (nine in 2006) and Los Angeles Kings (eight in 2014).
The Golden Knights have outscored their opponents 20-5 in the second period this postseason. That is the third-highest goal differential in the second period by any team through 12 playoff games, trailing only the Cup-winning 1981 New York Islanders (+17) and 1979 New York Rangers (+16), who got to the Cup Final but couldn’t stop the Montreal Canadiens from a four-peat.
Thirty-five of the 45 goals scored by the Golden Knights this postseason have come at 5-on-5, which leads the league. Vegas was one of six NHL teams to score 70% or greater of its goals at 5-on-5 during the regular season (187/267), along with the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, Canadiens and Islanders.
Vegas was the most disciplined NHL team during the regular season, committing just 2.92 penalties per 60 minutes, but it entered Game 1 as the least disciplined NHL team during the playoffs, committing 5.62 penalties per 60 minutes this postseason.
The Stars joined the 2003 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim as the only teams in Stanley Cup playoff history to require overtime three times in series openers in one postseason. The Mighty Ducks managed to leave the arena victorious in each of those three games, while this Stars team has been on the losing end in each of its games. Anaheim reached Game 7 of the Cup Final in 2003 before falling to the New Jersey Devils.
Only three clubs have reached the Stanley Cup Final after losing Game 1 of a best-of-seven series three times in a single playoff year. However, each of those three teams ultimately took their lap around the rink hoisting the Stanley Cup (1991 Penguins, 2011 Boston Bruins, 2018 Washington Capitals). The Stars have a 2-0 series record this postseason after losing Game 1. They had a record of 6-20 (.231) in best-of-seven playoff series after losing Game 1 prior to 2023.
Roope Hintz factored on all three of Dallas’ goals in Game 1 (one goal and two assists) to boost his playoff totals to 10 goals and 12 assists, the first Stars skater to reach double digits in both goals and assists during one postseason since both Mike Modano (10 goals and 13 assists) and Brett Hull (11 goals and 13 assists) in 2000.
Hintz surpassed Connor McDavid (20 points) to take over sole possession of the playoff lead in points with 22, which is tied with Steve Payne in 1981 for the most by a Stars/North Stars skater through 14 playoff games. He can become the third skater in franchise history to lead (outright/tied) the Stanley Cup playoffs in points after Hull (24 in 2000) and Bill Goldsworthy (15 in 1968) accomplished that feat.
A bright spot for the Stars in Game 1 was seeing Jason Robertson — who was the first Stars skater since the franchise moved to Dallas ahead of the 1993-94 season to register 100 points during the regular season — score his first goal at 5-on-5 in the Stanley Cup playoffs (each of his prior two goals this postseason were on the power play).
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