Denis Gurianov on Monday night scored a power-play goal 3 minutes, 36 seconds into overtime as the Dallas Stars reached their first Stanley Cup final in 20 years with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Joel Kiviranta also scored a power-play goal late in the third period to force overtime as the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit to shock the Golden Knights and win the Western Conference final series 4-1.
“We found our game. We scored a goal and that got us going, then the power play took over,” said forward Joe Pavelski of the Stars’ eighth come-from-behind win in the post-season.
On the winning goal, Gurianov, 23, took a pass from John Klingberg and hammered a one-timer past Vegas goalie Robin Lehner on the short side that sparked a mob scene celebration with Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin in the middle.
Canada’s Jamie Benn also scored, while Khudobin stopped 34 shots for the Stars.
Dallas are to play either the New York Islanders or the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL championship.
Dallas had been outshot and outplayed for most of the series, but thanks to timely scoring and brilliant goaltending from Russia’s Khudobin they were able to stun the favored Golden Knights.
Khudobin, who stopped 153 of 161 shots in the series, assumed the starting role last month from Ben Bishop, who is injured.
“He stepped into an unsure situation and just ran with it. He got more confident with every game,” Pavelski said of Khudobin.
Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said that his team’s scoring woes started in the previous round against the Vancouver Canucks and carried over into the conference final.
“There’s no doubt the last couple games of the Vancouver series against [Canucks goalie Thatcher] Demko probably rattled our confidence in that area as a group,” DeBoer said.
“Honestly up to that point, I thought we were creating a tonne of offense,” he added.
Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson opened the scoring on a breakaway near the halfway point of the first after being set up by Knights leading playoff scorer Shea Theodore. Stephenson took a cross-ice pass from Theodore and drove to the net where he neatly slipped a backhand between the legs of Khudobin.
Vegas forward Reilly Smith made it 2-0 just 15 seconds into the third and just moments after Lehner had robbed Tyler Seguin at the other end.
Smith broke out quickly, creating a two-on-one and then ripped a shot on the short side over the glove of Khudobin. Benn cut the deficit to 2-1 by outbattling defenceman Alec Martinez for a loose puck, and then turning and firing it high into the net.
Kiviranta tied it up on the powerplay, lifting the puck over a sprawled Lehner during a goal mouth scramble with 3 minutes, 47 seconds left in the regulation.
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