May 24th, 2024

Stone scores in return for Vegas, Golden Knights edge Stars 4-3

By Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press on April 22, 2024.

DALLAS (AP) – Vegas captain Mark Stone scored quickly after missing two months and his first-time linemate Tomas Hertl had a nifty goal in his playoff debut for the Golden Knights.

Stone and Hertl scored on the only power plays for the reigning Stanley Cup champion as Vegas opened defence of its title with a 4-3 win over the top-seeded Dallas Stars on Monday night.

“Off to a good start on the road,” Stone said. “That’s key, and the power play was clutch for us.”

Jonathan Marchessault got his franchise-record 36th post-season goal for Vegas, while Brayden McNabb scored on a 50-foot sniper shot from against the boards in the second period. Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin both had two assists.

Hertl and Hanifin were two of three trade acquisitions for Vegas while Stone was on the long-term injured list after he lacerated his spleen Feb. 20. With Stone’s salary not counting toward the NHL’s cap during that time, the Knights were able to be aggressive at the deadline in March.

“Awesome “¦ a lot of fun,” Hertl said of playing with Stone. “Hopefully we can just keep building every game and getting better and better for our team. i think we will get better and we will score a lot of goals for our team.”

The Knights entered this post-season as the No. 8 seed and a first-round opener in Dallas, where last year they wrapped up the West final with a Game 6 victory after having won the first three games. Game 2 of this series is Wednesday night.

“If you’re going to knock off the Stanley Cup champions, you’re going to have to bring your A-game every night,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “We did some decent things, we did some things well, but we’re chasing the game the whole night from the first shot of the game on. Tough to play from behind against that team.”

Logan Thompson got the start in net for Vegas, stopping 27 shots in his post-season debut after coach Bruce Cassidy went with him over fellow 27-year-old goalie Adin Hill, who had a 1.99 goals-against-average and two shutouts against the Stars in the West final last year. The two had split starts down the stretch, though Hill had struggled much of this season with injuries and inconsistent play.

Stone missed the final 26 games of the regular season and just returned to full-contact practice two days earlier. But he quickly had an playoff impact, with his back to the net in the slot when he tipped a shot by Hanifin that got past screened goalie Jake Oettinger during a power play only 1:23 into the game.

“I wouldn’t be more happy for any guy than him,” Marchessault said. “‘He’s been going through a lot of adversity the past few years. The fact that he comes back and he gets big goals like that, I mean it’s unbelievable to have a guy like that on your team. Especially as your leader.”

Vegas led 2-0 when Marchessault scored on a pass from Ivan Barashev. Marchessault and William Karlsson are the only Knights who have played in all 89 playoffs games for the franchise that has made the post-season in seven of its eight seasons.

Marchessault’s tally came only about a minute after the Stars thought they had tied the game on a goal by Ryan Suter, whose 1,444 regular-season games without a Stanley Cup are the most by any active player. But Suter’s score was taken off the board because of an offside call against Mason Marchment after a coach’s challenge and an official replay.

The Stars got goals from captain Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson and Marchment, who scored with 8:14 left.

Benn took a long pass from Wyatt Johnston and after charging toward the net, made a slick move and swiped the puck through Thompson’s legs to get the Stars to 2-1.

Oettinger, an All-Star this season, has allowed two goals or less in 10 of his last 11 regular-season games. He had 11 saves.

He gave up three goals in the first period, including Hertl’s three seconds after a Dallas penalty. Hertl won the faceoff, then went to the front of the net and took a pass from Hanifin, swiped at the puck before regathering it and knocking it into the net for a 3-1 lead.

Only 40 seconds later, Robertson scored after rookie Logan Stankoven got the puck away from Stone near the blue line.

AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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