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Never-say-die Stars stun Knights to reach first Stanley Cup final since 2000

Dallas Stars forward Denis Gurianov (34) is congratulated by Roope Hintz after scoring the game-winning goal during overtime against the Vegas Golden Knights to win their Western Conference final series in five games - BRUCE BENNETT / ©AFP
Dallas Stars forward Denis Gurianov (34) is congratulated by Roope Hintz after scoring the game-winning goal during overtime against the Vegas Golden Knights to win their Western Conference final series in five games - BRUCE BENNETT / ©AFP

(AFP)

Denis Gurianov scored a powerplay goal 3:36 into overtime as the Dallas Stars punched their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Joel Kiviranta also scored a power play goal late in the third period goal to force overtime as the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit Monday night to shock the Golden Knights and win the Western Conference final series 4-1.  

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“We found our game. We scored a goal and that got us going, then the powerplay took over,” said forward Joe Pavelski of the Stars’ eighth come-from-behind win in the postseason.

On the winning goal, Gurianov, 23, took a pass from John Klingberg and hammered a one-timer past Vegas goalie Robin Lehner on the short side that sparked a mob scene celebration with Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin in the middle.  

Canada’s Jamie Benn also scored while Khudobin stopped 34 shots for the Stars, who advanced to their first Stanley Cup final since 2000.

Dallas will play either the New York Islanders or the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL championship. The Lightning can wrap their series up with a win on Tuesday in the NHL’s quarantine bubble in Edmonton, Alberta.

Dallas has been outshot and outplayed for most of the series, but thanks to timely scoring and brilliant goaltending from Russia’s Khudobin they were able to stun the favoured Golden Knights.

Khudobin, who stopped 153 of 161 shots in the series, assumed the starting role last month from Ben Bishop, who is injured.

“He stepped into an unsure situation and just ran with it. He got more confident with every game,” Pavelski said of Khudobin.

Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson opened the scoring on a breakaway near the halfway point of the first after being setup by Knights leading playoff scorer Shea Theodore. 

Stephenson took a cross ice pass from Theodore and drove to the net where he neatly slipped a backhand between the legs of Khudobin. 

Vegas forward Reilly Smith made it 2-0 just 15 seconds into the third and just moments after Lehner had robbed Tyler Seguin at the other end. 

Smith broke out quickly, creating a two-on-one and then ripped a shot on the short side over the glove of Khudobin. 

Benn cut the deficit to 2-1 by outbattling defenceman Alec Martinez for a loose puck and then turning and firing it high into the net. 

Kiviranta tied it up on the powerplay, lifting the puck over a sprawled Lehner during a goal mouth scramble with 3:47 left in the regulation.

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