The Dallas Stars’ fortunes could turn, with their top forwards becoming a difference factor in the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, Dallas needs that awakening to continue in Game 6 at Edmonton, the hub city of the Cup Final, Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“It’s good that these guys catch the ball and make the most of it, but again we’re here because of the team play and the committee and everybody and jumping and help and step up at different times, ”coach Rick Bowness said Sunday. “So the last two games are the veterans and who knows who’s going to show up and make the difference tomorrow? But that’s the kind of approach we want to take with all the players.
“We say to them, ‘Who’s on tonight? Who is speaking tonight? Let’s be a difference factor there. “”
Pavelski contributed throughout the series; he leads the Stars with four goals in the final and has five points. But Perry and Seguin were calm for the first three games and long before this series began on September 19.
Perry scored his first goal in 20 games and ended a 12-game drought with a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 4 on Friday. Perry, who won the Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and, like Pavelski, signed an unrestricted free agent with Dallas on July 1, 2019, has 98 points (41 goals, 57 assists) in 144 playoff games. . The 35-year-old has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 26 playoff games; he has five goals and 16 assists in 57 regular season games.
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Seguin, who led the Stars with 50 points in the regular season (17 goals, 33 assists), has gone 14 scoreless games but has five assists in the last two playing on a line with Perry and Kiviranta. Seguin won the Cup with the Boston Bruins as a rookie in 2011 and had 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) in 87 NHL playoff games, including 13 (two goals, 11 assists) in 25 games on this race.
“He’s a great player,” Perry said of Seguin. “When he holds the pucks, wants the puck and does his thing, he’s efficient. I thought [Saturday], and even [Friday] with [Kiviranta], we’ve done a hell of a job and we need to keep doing it. It’s not going to get any easier, and all the guys in our dressing room know that. ”
Getting the production from their top forwards was essential for the Stars as the Lightning’s top line Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov was dominant. Point (four goals, three assists) and Kucherov (one goal, six assists) each have seven points to share the seed; Palat has five points (three goals, two assists), giving the line a total of 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in five games.
But Lightning coach Jon Cooper thought it was only a matter of time before the big names in the Stars started to participate, too.
“They’re top players for a reason, because they’re good in the league,” Cooper said. “So to sit here and say, ‘Oh, you’re going to keep all these guys off the scoresheet every night in a seven-game streak,’ that usually isn’t going to happen. The simple fact that we make everyone talk about it, how their big guys didn’t do as well as they wanted, is probably a good sign for us.
“But ultimately, there’s a reason they went looking for Pavelski and a reason they went looking for Perry – during times like [Saturday] night, and the two delivered to them. ”
The Stars’ top lines will certainly try to build on their Game 5 production, but Bowness continued to stress the importance of winning in committee when the puck drops on Monday.
“That’s why we always play,” Bowness said. “We didn’t focus on one or two guys; we focused on the team. So when [the top forwards] weren’t scoring, some of the other guys stepped in and made a difference in the games, made a difference in the playoffs, and that’s how you get to the Stanley Cup Final. ”