Golden Knights fall to Stars in Game 7 of opening round

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY
The Golden Knights’ title defense ends with a 2-1 Game 7 loss at Dallas to in the first round of the NHL Playoffs on Sunday.

The Stanley Cup’s stay with Vegas Golden Knights will be coming to a close.

The Golden Knights bowed out of the postseason Sunday afternoon, losing 2-1 to the Stars in Dallas in a cardiac-inducing Game 7.

The Knights went down a goal early, pulled back even midway and then got outpaced to the finish line.

“I think if you look at the whole series, the margins were slim,”  Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Game three, we didn’t like our game, we’ve acknowledged that. After that, we lost some games.

“We to our game at times and so did they. I don’t think either team could sit here and say they dominated the series. I thought certainly, Game 6 was our best game. I would hope that would bleed into today and it didn’t.”

Frustrating end

The loss ends a forgettable season. The top highlights will likely be chalked up to their trade deadline acquisitions of cornerstones Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl, but it was mostly defined by the amount of injuries throughout the year.

After starting the season with historic unbeaten streak for a defending champion, they played sub .500 hockey for large chunks of the season on their way to earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

“We came out of the gate really well,” Cassidy said. “Our full team was together, and then the adversity kind of kicked in.

“We had nine guys have surgery this year, nine guys. I mean, your roster is only what, twenty three? Nine players (had surgeries), and two of them internal surgeries so you never know how those are going to play out.”

Wyatt Johnston opened the scoring five minutes into the game, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead. It was another impressive play from the 20-year-old Johnston, who was the biggest thorn in the Knights side throughout the series.

Knights forward Brett Howden tied the game at 1-1 four and a half minutes into the second period with a tip-in goal that came courtesy of a Michael Amadio assist. It would end up being the last goal of their season.

Empty net doesn’t work

Radek Faksa would score what ended up being the game-winning goal for the Stars 44 seconds into the third period, leading to a 19-plus minute defensive battle until the final horn. With their net empty for the final few minutes, the Knights were able to apply pressure on the offensive end in the waning moments without success.

The loss marks the first postseason elimination for Vegas since they fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the 2021 semifinals. It’s also the second time the Stars have knocked the Knights out of the postseason in the team’s seven-year history after doing so in the bubble in 2020.

The offseason raises significant questions for the Golden Knights’ player retention, none bigger than their Conn Smythe winning, franchise cornerstone Jonathan Marchessault. The beloved winger will likely command a deal in the free-agent market that’s at the very high end of length and price for the Knights’ liking. 

If Marchessault isn’t willing to give a hometown discount, he probably just played his last game in Vegas.