Tag Archives: Brian Bellows

Take Five: Five Takeaways From Game 3 of the 2020 Western Conference Final

For the first time in this year’s Western Conference Final, a goalie did not record a shutout. Instead, Alexander Radulov scored the game-winning goal 31 seconds into overtime to give the Dallas Stars the, 3-2, win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 and a 2-1 series lead.

That’s right, Dallas is two wins away from making the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000.

The winner of Game 3 in a Conference Finals series that entered the game tied 1-1 holds an all time series record of 32-9. The Conference Final series format wasn’t introduced until 1982, if anyone’s wondering.

Now before the two teams tackle Game 4 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), let’s review five takeaways from Game 3 that could impact Game 4 and/or the outcome of the series (or might not have to do with anything at all).

1. Folks, we’ve got a goalie battle on our hands.

If you’ve been watching either of the two teams in the Western Conference Final throughout the 2020 postseason, you’d already know about the goaltender “controversy” with the Golden Knights, but this has nothing to do with that.

No, instead, this is about how after the first period, while the game was still tied, 0-0, Vegas had a shutout streak spanning 137:24– dating back to John Klingberg’s only goal in Game 1 of the series at 2:36 of the first period.

Robin Lehner had a personal shutout streak of 151:44 that reached further back into the vault when the Golden Knights shutout the Vancouver Canucks, 3-0, in Game 7 of their Second Round series.

Once Jamie Oleksiak scored a breakaway goal to give Dallas the, 1-0, lead at 19:43 of the second period, Lehner’s shutout streak came to an end at 171:37, which surpassed Marc-Andre Fleury’s previous franchise record for the longest postseason shutout streak of 144:04 in 2018.

After Shea Theodore scored a power-play goal to tie the game, 1-1, at 3:49 of the third period, Dallas’s shutout streak came to an end at 157:17– dating back to late in the second period after the Stars allowed three goals against and lost, 3-0, in Game 2.

NHL.com‘s David Satriano went back and checked the numbers on those stats since he was the one that tweeted them out (maybe you should give him a follow if you’re into that sort of thing).

Oh and Theodore’s goal, by the way, was his seventh of the postseason and brought him to a tie with Tampa Bay Lightning defender, Victor Hedman, for the most goals by a defender this postseason.

Theodore has 7-11–18 totals in 18 games for Vegas, while Hedman has 7-6–13 totals in 15 games for the Bolts.

2. “Sin City” or “Saint City”?

The Golden Knights displayed some good discipline in Game 3 having only given up one power play opportunity to the Stars courtesy of Max Pacioretty’s roughing minor against Klingberg at 11:33 of the first period.

Vegas only had one penalty called against them, whereas Dallas was guilty of four minor infractions.

Who are the bad boys now?

Of course, Klingberg’s penalty at 1:33 of the third period was an automatic minor for delay of game (puck over glass) and interim head coach, Rick Bowness, lost a coach’s challenge at 12:46 of the final frame (Mark Stone’s deflection goal to tie the game, 2-2) and was assessed a bench minor as a result of losing the challenge.

3. Dallas’ defense is their best offense.

Some of you might be thinking this is about to be one of those “defense wins championships” explanations, but it’s not.

Rather, Dallas’ defense is their best offense in quite the literal sense.

Oleksiak scored the game’s first goal (depth!) and Miro Heiskanen recorded his league leading 17th assist this postseason on that same goal.

Only Brian Bellows and Mike Modano had more assists for the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise in one postseason. Bellows had 19 assists in the North Stars’ run to the 1991 Stanley Cup Final and Modano had 18 assists in Dallas’ run to winning the Cup in 1999.

Obviously this means one of two things– at least– that Heiskanen is really good and (two) that the Stars could very well make the 2020 Stanley Cup Final based on this trend.

In any case, Dallas’ defenders have been moving the puck out of their zone with precision and hitting the back of the twine when it matters most with some clutch performances this postseason.

4. Have you tried turning it “off” then back “on” again?

Vegas’ goaltending hasn’t looked bad so far in this series, but the rest of the team appears to have forgotten their legs at times and lacking in the “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps”/”dig deeper in the trenches” playoff mentality.

It’s not a major thing if it happens in a game or two, but the Golden Knights started to show signs of a crack in their foundation in the previous round against Vancouver and it’s not that the Stars are even exploiting it, so much as Vegas just hasn’t been playing their game.

One would expect the Golden Knights to come out a little harder and faster paced in Game 4 and especially try to capture a full 60-minute effort.

Then again, perhaps everything you just read after the fourth headline is actually a lie.

The Golden Knights had 12 shots on goal in the first period (Dallas had four), 10 shots on net in the second period (the Stars had 14) and 18 shots on goal in the third period (Dallas had four once again).

All in all, Vegas outshot the Stars, 40-23, but all it took was one shot in overtime– 31 seconds into the extra frame, I might add– by Radulov to end the game and steal the victory for the Stars.

So maybe the question “have you tried turning it ‘off’ then back ‘on’ again?” really pertains to “have you tried not hitting the goaltender and simply scoring more if you’re going to take a lot more shots a night than the other team?”

Because that’s been a bit of a problem for the Golden Knights at times this postseason and it can be frustrating as hell– not just for the players, but the fans watching at home too.

Kudos to Anton Khudobin, though, he’s on top of his game and getting a workout too.

That’s something not many of us can say in a pandemic. *nonchalantly puts down a bag of chips*

5. Have coaches become drunk with power with the “coach’s challenge” this postseason?

Bowness has made a couple of questionable decisions to use his coach’s challenge at times this postseason, but it seems more and more coach’s this year are quick to try to overrule the call on the ice.

Say what you want about the decisions made when Carolina Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, went unsuccessful in the coach’s challenge department in the First Round or Jon Cooper’s odd petition on behalf of the Lightning in the Second Round, but nothing compares to Alain Vigneault’s three “what are you doing!?!” quality challenges this year in the playoffs.

Maybe it’s not the head coaches who are in too deep over their heads, but the video coach that has to scramble for to rewind the feed from multiple angles and make a split-second decision on what to advise their head coach to do.

Plus, of course, the officiating in the first place.

Sure, they’re human, but they’re always bound to make mistakes as a result and– in theory– a review system would get the calls right 100 percent of the time or something, but then again one team and their fan base is never going to be happy with the end result no matter what.

If anything, that gives us all 21 or older (18/19 or older basically everywhere else in the world) another chance to sit back, grab a beer and watch the hockey unfold.

New B’s help Bruins over Stars, 4-3

The Boston Bruins beat the Dallas Stars, 4-3, Thursday night at TD Garden in a game that had a little bit of everything.

Jaroslav Halak (17-6-6 record, 2.44 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 30 games played) turned aside 31 out of 34 shots faced for a .912 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Stars goaltender, Ben Bishop (21-14-4, 2.49 GAA, .921 SV% in 42 games played), made 24 saves on 28 shots against for an .857 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 40-13-12 (92 points) on the season and remain in command of 1st place in the entire league, while Dallas fell to 37-21-6 (80 points) on the season, but remained in 3rd place in the Central Division.

The B’s also improved to 22-3-9 at home this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Thursday.

New acquisition, Ondrej Kase, made his Boston debut on the second line with David Krejci at center and Nick Ritchie at left wing.

As a result, Bruce Cassidy moved Jake DeBrusk down to the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork– just like how he swapped DeBrusk and Ritchie during Tuesday night’s, 5-2, loss to the Calgary Flames.

Cassidy made no other changes to the lineup, while Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Dallas.

Midway through the opening frame, Tyler Seguin tripped up Chris Wagner and was assessed a minor in fraction at 13:07 of the first period.

Boston did not score on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night.

Moments later, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Radek Faksa and was sent to the penalty box at 17:04.

Dallas converted on the resulting power play when John Klingberg snapped a shot from the point that looked was tipped in by Jamie Benn (19) for his 300th career goal.

Klingberg (25) and Joe Pavelski (16) had the assists on Benn’s goal, which made it, 1-0, for Dallas at 17:38.

Benn became the fourth player in Dallas/Minnesota North Stars franchise history to amass at least 300 career regular season goals, joining Mike Modano (557 career goals), Brian Bellows (342) and Dino Ciccarelli (332).

It marked the 18th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice and the fifth straight game that Boston’s opponent scored first– regardless of the building.

Less than a minute later, Andrew Cogliano was punished for slashing Coyle and sent to the sin bin at 18:18.

While on the ensuing power play, Torey Krug sent a shot on goal from the point that rebounded off of Bishop and into Coyle’s strikezone whereby Coyle (16) batted the puck out of the air and into the twine for the home run power play goal.

Krug (35) and Brad Marchand (55) tallied the assists and the B’s tied the game, 1-1, at 19:44 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the score was even at, 1-1, while the Bruins led the Stars in shots on goal, 10-9.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Dallas led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (3-1) and hits (9-8).

Both teams had three giveaways each.

The Stars were 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle period.

Things came to a crescendo when Krejci and Pavelski dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs at 11:24 of the second period.

The two players each received five-minute majors for fighting and play continued without any other major disruptions.

A few minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tossed a pass from about the goal line to Marchand (26) in the slot for a point blank one-timer.

McAvoy (24) and David Pastrnak (44) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led for the first time of the night, 2-1, at 14:44.

Less than a couple minutes later, Boston went up by two-goals as Ritchie (9) scored his first goal as a Bruin after snapping a shot from the high slot through net front traffic, off of Seguin and past Bishop.

Ritchie’s goal was unassisted and made it, 3-1, for the Bruins at 16:01 of the second period.

Late in the period, Wagner tackled Mattias Janmark after a whistle in defense of a teammate, but received a roughing minor for his retaliatory actions at 18:49.

Dallas didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, Boston was in command of the scoreboard, 3-1, and in shots on goal, 22-19.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Stars held the advantage in hits (19-16).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the third period.

Wagner wasn’t available to start the third period for the Bruins and later deemed “unlikely to return” to the game with an “upper body injury” by Boston’s media team.

Meanwhile, Dallas cut Boston’s lead in half, 3-2, after Esa Lindell fired a shot that deflected off of Denis Gurianov’s (19) stick, then off of Krug’s leg and past Halak at 1:18 of the third period.

Lindell (20) and Jason Dickinson (12) had the assists on Gurianov’s goal.

Boston responded with a goal of their own when Pastrnak broke into the attacking zone on a rush with Ritchie, sent Ritchie a pass, then received a shot that Pastrnak (46) intentionally redirected into the open twine.

Ritchie (12) and Jeremy Lauzon (1) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 4-2, at 3:53.

Stars head coach, Rick Bowness, pulled Bishop for an extra attacker with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

After Marchand missed the open net from just inside the blue line, Dallas charged down the length of the ice and sustained pressure in the attacking zone, while Boston was forced to defend.

Miro Heiskanen (8) ripped a shot that rebounded off of Halak, but clipped Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara’s, skate at just the right angle to bounce off of the Bruin and slip between the post and the Boston goaltender to make it a one-goal game.

Benn (18) and Seguin (33) tallied the assists on Heiskanen’s goal, but the Bruins still led, 4-3, at 17:36 of the third period.

Dallas pulled their goaltender once more with 1:58 remaining in regulation, but despite their best efforts, Boston’s defense wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice and held on to the, 4-3, victory at the final horn.

The Bruins won, 4-3, but finished the night trailing in shots on goal to the Stars, 34-28.

Dallas also wrapped up Thursday night with the advantage in hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in blocked shots (14-9).

Both clubs had 11 giveaways and were 1/2 on the power play on Thursday.

The Bruins are now 12-2-6 when tied after one period and 25-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

The Stars are 9-8-4 when tied after one period and 9-16-1 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston wrapped up their two-game homestand (1-1-0) on Thursday and finishes the month of February on the road against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon.