Stars win Game 7 OT thriller vs. Avalanche; Joel Kiviranta unlikely hat trick hero

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In a goal-filled series full of twists and turns, it only makes sense that Game 7 of Stars – Avalanche was also full of goals (and twists, and turns). Once the smoke cleared, the Stars eliminated the Avs after winning Game 7 by a score of 5-4 in overtime.

Joel Kiviranta ended up being the unlikely Game 7 hero, scoring a hat trick for the Stars as they stunned the Avalanche.

With that, the Stars await the winner of Game 7 between the Golden Knights and Canucks on Friday at 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream).

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Joel Kiviranta unlikely hat trick hero of Game 7 of Stars – Avalanche

Maybe it’s only fitting that no lead was really safe in Game 7. After all, this Second Round series has featured plenty of pace, goals, and plot twists.

The Stars capitalized on an early power play to make it 1-0 just 2:39 in, but that lead lasted barely more than one minute.

Vladislav Namestnikov scored the first of his two big Game 7 goals to tie things up 1-1 soon after that Alexander Radulov goal, while Andre Burakovsky put the Avs up 2-1 six minutes later.

About three minutes into the second period, little-known Stars forward Joel Kiviranta scored the first of his hat trick of Game 7 goals to tie things up at 2-2, only for Nazem Kadri to score the 3-2 power-play tally for Colorado.

The drama only continued in the third.

After taking what could have been a costly penalty while down 3-2, Radulov scored a 3-3 power-play goal. Somehow, the Avalanche and Stars saved even more head-shaking moments for Game 7, too.

With just 3:40 remaining in the third period, Namestnikov scored his second goal of Game 7 to make it 4-3 for the Avs. That felt like it could be the late game-winner …

… for 10 seconds. That’s how long it took for Kiviranta to overcome an odd angle to score his second goal of Game 7. While there were some more close calls in regulation, the two teams pushed this one to overtime. Of course, eh?

To say the least, Game 7 wasn’t kind to either Anton Khudobin or Michael Hutchinson.

Shockingly, Kiviranta’s greatest heroics came after those two regulation goals. He beat Hutchinson for the overtime, Game 7, series-winner to cap a hat trick. So far in his NHL career, Kiviranta scored one goal and zero assists in 11 regular-season games.

Serious ups and downs for Radulov

Even relative to other players in a high-pressure situation, Alexander Radulov experienced quite the range of emotions.

To start, he felt shame. Radulov doinked Anton Khudobin in the head with an ill-advised shot during warm-ups, something that prompted three apologies from Radulov. Maybe relief came next, as Radulov put the Stars up 1-0 with an early power-play goal.

The swings continued in the third period. First, Radulov took a penalty to put the Stars on the PK while they were down 3-2. After the Stars killed that, Radulov redeemed himself once more by tying Game 7 3-3.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars (Stars win series 4-3)

Stars 5, Avalanche 3 (recap)
Stars 5, Avalanche 2 (recap)
Avalanche 6, Stars 4 (recap)
Stars 5, Avalanche 4 (recap)
Avalanche 6, Stars 3 (recap)
Avalanche 4, Stars 1 (recap)
Stars 5, Avalanche 4 (OT)

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.