NHL Bubble Wrap: Khudobin bounces back in big way for Stars in Game 3

NHL Bubble Wrap: Khudobin bounces back in big way for Stars in Game 3
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Game 3: Stars 3, Golden Knights 2 [OT] (DAL leads 2-1)

Game 1 was very much a Stars-style win, while the Golden Knights exerted control over Game 2. In the case of Game 3, it was more of a mix.

Things began as a tight, grinding affair, with the first goal only coming in the dying moments of the second period. On paper, that favored the Stars.

That heightened urgency might have prompted the Golden Knights to up the temp during the third period. Vegas tied it up early in that frame, only to see Jamie Benn score by beating Robin Lehner five-hole. From there, the Golden Knights tied things up on a controversial 2-2 goal that withstood a goalie interference review.

During the ensuing penalty, Anton Khudobin made some very difficult saves to keep Game 3 tied. At a couple points, Khudobin seemed hurt — or at least exhausted. Robin Lehner also ended up looking a little shaken up after making last second saves against Benn to end regulation. To state the obvious, both goalie situations are worth watching as the 2020 Western Conference Final goes forward.

Did some issues hinder Lehner on Alexander Radulov‘s pretty overtime-winning goal? Tough to say, but it’s easy to argue that Radulov scored a beauty. With that, the Stars lead this series once again, this time 2-1.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars

It’s pretty tough to knock Khudobin for either of the goals he allowed in Game 3. Heck, you can engage in a lengthy debate about whether or not the second goal should have counted.

Either way, consider this a massive rebound after Khudobin was given the hook in Game 2. Granted, few would’ve put that Stars loss on Khudobin, but Dallas must be thrilled to see the veteran goalie shake off any hint of a setback.

The Golden Knights generated a 40-23 shots on goal advantage versus Dallas, but the Stars won Game 3 in large part because of how sharp Khudobin was. While Vegas scored twice during the third period, they could have run away with the game considering the pressure they managed.

Frankly, the Golden Knights might need to channel more of that third-period energy over a full 60 minutes, as Khudobin isn’t making it easy for them to score.

2. Jamie Benn, Stars

Frankly, Benn deserved Three Stars consideration for the face he made after Lehner stopped him during the last seconds of regulation.

Beyond being that close to ending Game 3 with even more last-minute flair than Nikita Kucherov did for the Lightning, Benn was a dominating presence in this one.

Along with being a physical force, Benn scored a big 2-1 goal against Lehner, and was credited with an assist on Radulov’s OT GWG. Benn ended the night with six SOG, a +2 rating, five hits, and those two points.

3. Alex Radulov, Stars

One cannot help but wonder if the Stars might be wiser to lean more heavily on top players, rather than a seemingly balanced approach. After all, Benn only played 15:22 in Game 3, while Radulov was limited to 15:02, both receiving less ice time than Mattias Janmark (15:51) and Blake Comeau (17:36). All due respect to Janmark and Comeau, but you’d think those numbers would be switched. Then again, if ain’t broke?

Anyway, Radulov scored a beautiful overtime game-winner, and has been quite the X-factor for the Stars. At least when he can get on the ice.

Stars – Golden Knights Game 3 highlights:

A tight Game 3 got really wild once the Golden Knights needed to score. The Stars showed once again they can deal with that sort of thing, as they did often vs. the Avs:

Stars – Golden Knights Game 3 Factoids

  • Robin Lehner set a new Golden Knights playoff shutout streak record, as Jamie Oleksiak‘s 1-0 goal broke it at 171:27. This is a big bump from Marc-Andre Fleury‘s previous mark of 144:04.
  • Miro Heiskanen leads the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs — not just playoff defensemen — with 17 assists. Heiskanen ranks third in Stars franchise history in assists for any skater, trailing only Brian Bellows (19) and Mike Modano (18). [via NHL PR]
  • Radulov sits tied third all-time in Stars franchise history with four game-winning goals during a single postseason. Joe Nieuwendyk holds the record with six from 1999. [Sportsnet Stats]

FRIDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 3: Islanders vs. Lightning (TB leads 2-0) – 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final 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.

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