Kiviranta’s Hat-trick Propels Stars to Western Conference Final

 RecordGoaltenderGAA / SV%
Dallas Stars8-5-0Anton Khudobin3.64 / .909
Colorado Avalanche7-5-0Michael Hutchinson4.48 / .857

TLDR: In a game of trading chances, Radulov and Namestnikov score two goals apiece, but it was Joel Kiviranta’s third goal of the night that won it for the Stars in overtime. The Dallas Stars have eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in seven games to advance to the Western Conference Final.

After failing to close out the series on two separate occasions, the Dallas Stars now look to take a do-or-die Game 7 in order to advance to the Conference Finals. The Avalanche were hoping to do the same, and win three straight games to keep their Cup hopes alive.

Ahead of puck drop, it was announced that Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog was deemed unfit-to-play, marking a huge loss for the Avalanche in a high-stakes final match. Andrew Cogliano was not in the lineup for Dallas after blocking a shot in Period 3 of Game 6, nor was Taylor Fedun. A combined 48 goals had been scored in the first six games between the two clubs. Early on in the first, a scramble in front of Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin left everyone wondering where the puck was. Mikko Rantanen was called for tripping to give Dallas an early power play just 1:05 into the first. Alexander Radulov gave his team a 1-0 lead at the 2:39 mark of the first period.

Not long after… 69 seconds after, to be exact… Vladislav Namestnikov tied it up with his 3rd of the playoffs to make it 1-1.

With eight minutes gone in the first, the Stars were outshooting the Avalanche 10-6, but the score remained tied. Andre Burakovsky, who historically has delivered big when it mattered in Game 7’s, gave Colorado a 2-1 lead with 10:17 remaining in the period.

With just over seven minutes remaining, Joel Hanley of the Stars was called for holding, and thus the Avalanche got their first opportunity with the man-advantage.  Fortunately for Dallas and unfortunately for Colorado, the score would remain 2-1 with 5:30 left in the first. It was fairly evident that Khudobin wasn’t feeling very confident in his goaltending, as he kept looking behind him to check where pucks were ending up. The Dallas Stars trailed 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

Dallas, when leading three games to one, is 10-1 in games deciding the outcome of that series. On a Colorado delayed penalty (Burakovsky), Joel Kiviranta, with his first playoff goal, tied it all up 2-2.

Matt Nieto nearly took back the lead on a breakaway, but Khudobin made a huge save to keep the score 2-2. Mattias Janmark was then called for hooking to give the Avalanche their second opportunity with the man-advantage. Nazem Kadri took back the lead with just over a minute remaining on his teams’ power play to make it 3-2.

The tie-breaking goal was Kadri’s 6th power play goal of the post-season. The Avalanche went right back on the power play as Corey Perry went off for holding with 12:34 remaining in the middle frame. Colorado got two shots away with one off the post on the power play, but the score remained 3-2, Avs. Nazem Kadri was robbed of his second goal of the game with under four minutes left. The Avalanche outshot Dallas 16 to 12 in the second period.

The Dallas Stars, when trailing after two periods, were 1-6 in the post-season. Conversely, the Avalanche have been perfect when leading after two. Mattias Janmark did not return to the Stars bench for the third after blocking a shot in the first period. The third period had remained power play-less until Alexander Radulov was called for interference at the 7:16 mark. Colorado was unable to convert on their 4th power play of the afternoon. Dallas was then gifted just their second opportunity with the man-advantage as JT Compher went off for tripping. Trailing by one, it was imperative for the Stars to tie it up, and it was Alexander Radulov who did just that. Radulov’s 2nd of the game tied the game at three apiece, and meant that the Stars had gone 2-for-2 on the man-advantage.

With five minutes remaining, both the Avalanche and the Stars continued to fight for the opportunity to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Vladislav Namestnikov scored his 2nd goal of the game with 3:40 remaining to give the Avalanche a lead they hoped to hold.

But 10 seconds later, Kiviranta scored his second goal of the game to tie it all up once again, 4-4.

With two minutes left in the match, it would be safe to assert that the next goal to be scored would be the game-winner, should it be in favor of the Avalanche or the Stars. That fact would hold true, as Game 7 between these two teams would need overtime to determine a winner.

This was the first overtime game to take place in the Edmonton hub in the second round. Nathan MacKinnon, who is 0-2 all-time in Game 7’s, nearly won it all but there was no one in front to receive the pass. To complete the hattrick and an unlikely upset, Joel Kiviranta scored the overtime game winning goal with his 3rd of the evening to win it for Dallas.

TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game

1. The first of three Game 7’s ended with overtime. Will the other two matchups face the same fate?  

2. The Dallas Stars will face the winner of the Vegas-Vancouver game in the Western Conference Finals.

3. As previously mentioned, the playoffs this year favored the underdog.

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