The stars are still alive, they fell short against the Golden Knights

Thanks to Joe Pavelski’s record-breaking goal in overtime, the Dallas Stars prevented elimination in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals by defeating the team 3-2 Vegas Golden Knights

But there’s still a long way to go — make it a very long one — for Peter DeBoer’s squad to maneuver if they hope to join the Florida Panthers in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. Their best-of-seven series returns to Las Vegas on Saturday night for Game 5.

Teams that lead 3-0 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup series, like Vegas in Thursday’s loss, have a 201-4 (98 percent) all-time record. That includes going 47-0 in the pre-Stanley Cup Finals.

So while Pavelski’s fourth career overtime goal of the playoffs — a one-timer from the left circle off a feed from Miro Heiskanen — may have felt good for Dallas, he still has a huge mountain ahead of him. Stars to climb

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“These overtime games are a lot of fun,” said Pavelski, who became the oldest player in NHL history (38 years, 318 days) to score in overtime in an eventual elimination game. “They’re a lot more fun when you win them. That’s for sure.

“It’s a big win. It’s a start for us. We know where we are. That’s how (Vegas) started it, with an overtime win (in Game 1). It’s good to get one here and we can build from there. It’s one I won’t looking too far ahead to the next game. There’s no reason to.”

Vegas won the first two games of the series in Las Vegas 4-3 and 3-2, both in overtime, before blowing the Stars 4-0 in Game 3 in Dallas

THE Stars lost captain Jamie Benn for a game and committed a game-breaking offense for tackling Mark Stone just 1:53 into the loss. Benn was later suspended for two games for the incident, which kept him out of Game 5. Forward Yevgeny Dadonov suffered a lower-body injury in the first leg of the tournament and will not travel to Las Vegas.

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With the long odds of the series returning still facing them, it would have been easy to understand if the Stars checked out heading into Game 4. Instead, it was the Golden Knights who then questioned their efforts. THE Stars He cut through the Vegas defense for 42 shots and finished with an eye-popping 46-23

“I didn’t think our effort was good enough,” said center Jonathan Marchessault, who Golden Knights His eighth goal of the playoffs gave him a 2-1 lead early in the third period. “Probably the hardest win in a series is ending a series, right? It’s just not good enough for our group

“We tried to play the right way, but I think their desperation was more than ours. At this time of the year, it’s not about X’s and O’s, it’s about who wants it more. And I thought that they want it more than we do.”

DeBoer had no such complaints. He was particularly pleased with the play of goalkeeper Jake Oettinger, who made 37 saves, including a key spot kick by Jack Eichel late in the two-on-one break. Oettinger was pulled after allowing three goals on just five shots in Game 3.

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“It’s a great response,” DeBoer said. “Jake’s been that guy all year. . . . I don’t think you’ve seen the best of him. We had a great mindset tonight. We had great energy. We were focused. We wanted to take care of business and we did. Now you have to do it again.”

And again. And again.

— Field Level Media