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Defending Stanley Cup champion Knights and top-seed Stars set for a not-unexpected Game 7

Golden Knights Celebrate Golden Knights Celebrate - The Canadian Press

DALLAS (AP) — There is one more game to go between the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights and the top-seeded Stars.

That deciding Game 7 in Dallas on Sunday night will wrap up the first round in the Western Conference playoffs.

“I feel like coming into this series, you probably would have expected this,” veteran Stars forward Tyler Seguin said. “And if you asked us ... down 2-0, if we’d take Game 7 at home, we’d say yeah. So it should be exciting."

Dallas and Vegas have split wins at home since the visiting team won each of the first four games. The Knights extended the series to the limit with a 2-0 win in Game 6 on Friday night.

“We’ve played in big games before. Everyone in this room has been in big games,” Vegas captain Mark Stone said. “It’s a one-game elimination round. We played on our toes (Friday). We're in the same exact spot.”

The Knights are getting ready for the fourth Game 7 in franchise history, though the first since 2021 when Pete DeBoer was their coach. But 22 of the 27 players on their postseason roster were part of the Cup title last year, which included a Western Conference Final-clinching 6-0 win at Dallas in Game 6.

The winner advances to the second round to play well-rested Colorado, which wrapped up its opening round against Winnipeg with a Game 5 victory last Tuesday. The Stars would remain home to open the second round, while the Knights would stay on the road.

In the only other NHL playoff game Sunday, the second round gets started in the Eastern Conference with Carolina playing at the top-seeded New York Rangers.

DeBoer is 7-0 as a coach in Game 7s for four different teams. His only previous one with the Stars was at home over Seattle in the second round last year. He has been part of every Game 7 for the Knights, including their only wins in 2020 and 2021, and was on the other side with San Jose when the Sharks beat them in a seven-game series in 2019.

“There’s nothing better than Game 7s. I mean, that’s what you grow up dreaming about playing," DeBoer said. "And the second-best thing is coaching in them.”

Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy is 2-2 in Game 7s, all with Boston from 2018-22.

The Stars are playing the 17th Game 7 in franchise history, with a 4-5 record since moving to Dallas from Minnesota.


The Knights almost certainly will stick with Adin Hill in net for Game 7 after his third career playoff shutout — all against the Stars the past two seasons.

“He’s been here. ... So how about a fourth time Hilly?” Cassidy said after Hill's 23-save shutout in Game 6. “You’re not advancing without good goaltending. I think you’ve seen that from both sides. There hasn’t been a poor game from the goaltenders at all. So it’s one of those series where they’re dictating a lot of the outcomes.”

Neither Hill nor Logan Thompson, who started the first four games for Vegas in this series, have appeared in a Game 7.

Jake Oettinger, the 25-year-old Stars goalie, is getting ready for his third Game 7 in as many seasons.

In Game 7 against Seattle last year, he had 22 saves in a 2-1 win with the Kraken's only goal coming with an extra attacker and only 17 seconds left in the game. That series finale came exactly one year after Oettinger’s 64-save performance in his other Game 7 — a 3-2 loss at Calgary when Johnny Gaudreau’s OT goal ended the first-round series.

Oettinger has stopped 65 of 66 shots faced in the third period or overtime in this series. He was screened on the only one that got by when Noah Hanifin scored midway through the third period of Game 6 to break a scoreless tie. Stone had a late empty-net tally.

“He loves the moment. He loves the pressure," Seguin said of Oettinger. “The bigger the stage, the bigger he plays.”


Stars forward Joe Pavelski is 7-3 in Game 7s. Another win would match him with six other skaters for the most by a player in NHL history.

The 39-year-old Pavelski, whose 73 career playoff goals are the most for a U.S.-born player, is scoreless in this series.

Golden Knights teammates Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez are both 5-0 in Game 7s. Pietrangelo has played in only one for Vegas, and Martinez two.

Seguin has been in eight Game 7s, winning three with Boston before getting traded to Dallas. He is 2-3 with the Stars, along with captain Jamie Benn and Radek Faksa.


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