Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP
Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 | 9 a.m.
The Golden Knights are in trouble, down 3-1 to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. Puck drop for Game 5 is 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Network, and a loss will send Vegas home one round short of the Stanley Cup Final.
Vegas has outplayed the Stars for much of the series, but has been able to break a suffocating defense, particularly late in the game. Something will need to change for the Vegas offense, which has scored six goals in four games.
Here are three keys to victory, sponsored by Credit One Bank.
Yes, the Golden Knights scored first in Game 4 and still lost. But that was the first lead change of the series, and another early lead will do Vegas well. The Stars aren’t an offensive juggernaut by any means with only six goals this series. But when they get a lead, they are tough to rally against. With the Stars leading, the Golden Knights have scored just two goals, tying it twice before losing in overtime in Game 3. Dallas is good as any team in the league with a lead, so the Golden Knights need to ensure they’re not chasing the game.
Get to the dirty areas
The Stars’ two goals in Game 4 came from right in front of Robin Lehner — one on a goofy bounce off a stick and another off a rebound on the power play. No matter how they came, the Stars put themselves in a position to score those goals, and so far the Golden Knights haven’t. The third-period 5-on-3 in particular saw the Golden Knights position players near goalie Anton Khudobin, but not enough to distract him or get in his way. At one point he gloved down a Shea Theodore slapper with such ease that it looked like he wasn’t nearly challenged enough. Whether it’s traffic in front or capitalizing on the chances in front of the net that have so far alluded them, the Golden Knights need something to change tonight.
In honor of the Las Vegas Raiders playing their first game Sunday, the most important key is the most obvious one — in the words of Raider great Al Davis, “Just win, baby.” It really doesn’t matter at this point whether they blow the Stars out 7-0 or if they get outshot by 30 and squeak out a 1-0 win. The Golden Knights have faced three elimination games in their history, and just one that wasn’t a Game 7. They’re 1-2 in win-or-go-home games, and if they fall to 1-3, this will be the last Keys to Victory of the season.