- The Dallas Stars take Game 1 of the Western Conference Final playing their brand of hockey.
- It was a huge night for Stars goalie Anton Khudobin.
- The Stars continue to get huge contributions from their two No. 1 defensemen.
This was a pretty clinical defensive effort by one of the league’s best defensive teams. After getting through the Second Round on the strength of a surprising offensive performance, the Stars took Game 1 of the Western Conference Final with a recipe that is more in line with their style of play from the regular season. The Stars completely shut down the Golden Knights’ offense, limiting them to just 25 shots on goal and getting a shutout performance from Anton Khudobin to take a 1-0 series lead. John Klingberg scored the game’s only goal on their first shot of the game and then played a key role in protecting it.
1. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars. Miro Heiskanen‘s emergence has made it easy to overlook Klingberg, but do not for one second forget that he is still a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. He provided all the offense the Stars would need on Sunday night with his third goal of the playoffs, and then played 20 rock-solid minutes to help shut down the Golden Knights. With Klingberg and Heiskanen each running their own defense pairing the Stars make it so they have at least one No. 1 defenseman on the ice for more than two-thirds of the game. That is a huge advantage.
2. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars. Khudobin has been fantastic in his two seasons with the Stars and along with Ben Bishop has given them one of the league’s best goaltending duos. He finished with a league-best .930 save percentage during the regular season, and then showed up on Sunday night with 25 saves in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final to record his first shutout of the season and the first postseason shutout of his career.
3. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars. He did not factor into the scoring tonight — a rarity for him this postseason — but he still played a massive role in this win. He played a game-high 24 minutes and was his usual dominant self, helping to dictate the pace of the game and lock down one of the league’s most dangerous teams. When he was on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Stars held a 23-15 shot attempt advantage.
Highlights of the Night
The only goal of the night was Klingberg’s early goal.
The rest of Sunday’s highlights from the Stars’ Game 1 win.
- Khudobin became the 10th goalie in NHL history to record his first career postseason shutout after the age of 34, achieving that feat just one day after Thomas Greiss did the same for the New York Islanders. [NHL PR]
- Khudobin is also the fourth Stars goalie to record a postseason shutout since the franchise relocated to Dallas. [NHL PR]
- Defensemen are becoming a huge part of the Stars’ offense this postseason. [NHL PR]
Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
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• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule