May 29th, 2024

Vegas retaliation on Stars forward Seguin costly as defending champion Knights now trail in series

By Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press on May 2, 2024.

Dallas Stars center Matt Duchene (95) skates past Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) during the first period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Saturday, April 27, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)

DALLAS (AP) – Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin was briefly down on the ice with a bloody nose and a bit dazed after taking a shot to the face from Alex Pietrangelo.

That big backhanded swing from Pietrangelo while the two were together against the board was certainly retaliation for the Vegas Golden Knights against Seguin, who earlier in that second period took a penalty for an illegal check to the head of Shea Theodore.

But it was costly for the reigning Stanley Cup champion Knights, who suddenly trail in the opening-round series for the first time. Jason Robertson scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play and the Stars went on to a 3-2 victory in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

“He’s a leader on this team. Playoffs are an emotional time, and it’s a revved-up environment,” Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said of Pietrangelo. “You can’t win without emotion either, but you have to keep it in check.”

Pietrangelo didn’t talk to the media after the game.

“A veteran guy should know better. We didn’t like the hit on Theodore by Seguin, quite obvious he left his feet and targeted the head,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You’re going to be upset, but that’s playoff hockey. You’ve got to find a way to channel it. … We have to take care of our discipline. Just have to, it’s that simple.”

After winning the first two games in this series on the road, the Knights are going back home in a must-win situation to extend this series and defense of their title. Game 6 is Friday night in Las Vegas.

Seguin said he certainly had no intent of taking a head shot at Theodore when they collided about eight minutes into the second period. The Stars forward took the hit from Pietrangelo about 7 1/2 minutes later.

“Petro’s I don’t think a dirty player, either. I’m not a dirty player. I think there’s emotion in games sometimes,” Seguin said. “I had no intent, I don’t think Petro had the intent going out that shift to sucker me in the face. I think there’s emotion in games. He’s a great player, they’re a great team, let’s see what happens in the next game.”

Initially in both cases, officials called major penalties against Seguin and Pietrangelo. Both were downgraded to two-minute minors after replay review.

Theodore had just pushed the puck forward along the board before the contact, mainly with his left shoulder hitting Seguin in the back before spinning and going down on the ice.

“There was a lot going on in the game. There was a lot of emotions both ways,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “Some questionable hits, not questionable hits. … It’s all about managing it. You’re not going to get all those calls to go your way. And, you know, I thought our group managed the emotions of the game really well.”

In last year’s Western Conference final, Stars captain Jamie Benn missed Games 4 and 5 after being suspended for an ugly hit on Mark Stone that led to a game misconduct less than two minutes into a Game 3 loss after Dallas had already dropped the first two games. The captains collided and, after Stone fell to the ice, Benn lunged forward with both hands on his stick and made contact near Stone’s neck.

While neither of the hits this time reached that level, they were still emotional plays with big impacts on the game. Especially the retaliation hit, and second game in a row that the veteran Pietrangelo took a roughing penalty that led to a power-play goal for the Stars.

“That’s an area you’ve got to take a number and try to get those things squared away,” Cassidy said. “Dallas went through it last year right. Benn got thrown out, if you remember. And so there’s a little bit of a learning curve that goes into it. And I feel like we should know better. … But it happens.”

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

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