When it came to picking the player most likely to score in overtime in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Brett Howden probably would not have been at the top of the list for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Just ask coach Bruce Cassidy.
“Raise your hand if you had Howden in your pool tonight in overtime,” Cassidy said at his postgame press conference. “You probably went a different direction, right? So good for us. That’s why we’ve been able to win.”
Howden, who had just six goals and seven assists in 54 games during the regular season, scored 1:35 into overtime to give Vegas a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Friday night in Las Vegas.
Howden retrieved a puck behind the goal and then banked in a shot off the back of Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger’s left leg and into the net.
“I just tried throwing it in there,” Howden said of his first career overtime playoff goal. “Got lucky that it went in. I think Oettinger put it in himself, so just trying to throw it in there and see what would happens.”
Cassidy added, “You’re happy for Howie. Can’t always be the stars, right, or the guys that you would expect. And that’s what’s been good about our team. Different people stepping up in key moments.”
The Stars had tied the game when Jamie Benn scored with 1:59 remaining in regulation.
William Karlsson scored two goals, Teddy Blueger also scored and Zach Whitecloud had two assists for Vegas. Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill made 33 saves.
Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists, while Jason Robertson had one of each for Dallas. Joe Pavelski added two assists, and Oettinger also finished with 33 saves.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Sunday afternoon, also in Las Vegas.
Dallas lost Game 1 in overtime for the third straight series. The Stars fell 3-2 in double overtime in the first round against the Minnesota Wild, then rebounded to win that series in six games. They lost 5-4 in overtime to the Seattle Kraken to start the second round before rallying to win that set in seven games.
“I think the good news is the other two (series) ended the right way, so that’s what we’ll hope for,” Dallas coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ve been a response team all year, particularly in the playoffs. We’ll regroup and be ready for Game 2.”
Dallas took advantage of an odd bounce off the corner boards to take a 1-0 lead at the 18:44 mark of the first period. A clearing pass from behind the goal by Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo bounced off the boards into the center of the left circle, where Hintz picked it up. He threw a shot toward the goal that Robertson redirected through Hill’s pads.
Robertson notched his third goal of the playoffs while snapping an eight-game goal drought.
The bad bounces evened out midway through the second period when Karlsson tied it 1-1. Whitecloud blasted a shot from the right point. The puck caromed off the end boards straight to Karlsson as he was rushing past the left side of the goal. He whistled a wrist shot into an open net.
Karlsson gave Vegas a 2-1 lead at the 1:19 mark of the third period when he picked up a loose puck and fired a wrist shot from the high slot through Oettinger’s pads for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
The Golden Knights’ lead didn’t last long. Hintz took a crossing pass from Pavelski in the left circle and then snapped a shot off the near post and in at 4:01 of the middle period. It was Hintz’s 10th goal of the postseason.
Blueger, who didn’t play in the first nine playoff games for Vegas, put the Golden Knights ahead 3-2 at the 9:20 mark of the third with his first goal of the playoffs. He shoveled in a loose puck from the crease after Keegan Kolesar, hit by Ryan Suter, crashed into Oettinger on a drive to the net.
Dallas decided not to challenge for goaltender interference on the play.
The Stars pulled Oettinger for an extra attacker, and Benn tied it at 18:01 when he slid in a Pavelski back-heel kick pass under Hill’s left pad during a goal-mouth scramble. It was his third goal of the playoffs. Hintz also got an assist, giving him a league-leading 22 points in the playoffs.
–Field Level Media