LAS VEGAS (AP) — Alec Martinez was part of a 2014 Los Angeles Kings team that erased a 3-0 first-round series deficit and defeated Joe Pavelski and the San Jose Sharks in Game 7.
Pavelski and coach Pete DeBoer were the centerpieces of the Sharks’ comeback from down 3–1 to overcome the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round of the 2019 playoffs.
And now, the Dallas Stars are looking to repeat history trailing 3-1, though the odds are heavily stacked against them at plus-750 in the FanDuel sportsbook entering Game 5 of the Western Finals in Vegas on Saturday. The Stars, however, gave themselves a chance to stay alive on a power-play goal from Pavelski in overtime, winning 3-2 on Thursday.
Should they beat the Knights and force a Game 6 in Dallas, that could shift the pressure in this series to Vegas.
“We’ll get a little rest and we’ll try to do it again and keep trying to put a little bit of doubt in their mind,” Pavelski said.
Pavelski knows what it’s like to be in the position of knights. In 2014, the Sharks won the first three games of their series against the Kings. Then, Los Angeles posted four consecutive wins, including a 5–1 victory in Game 7 in San Jose, to become the fourth team in NHL history to rally from 3–0 down in the series.
Martinez said he doesn’t put as much stock in that experience in trying to prevent Dallas from doing the same to the Knights. Instead, he said that the experience of ending the series would serve him better.
And the Knights, at least until Thursday, have been on a roll in closeout games. They have won four in a row by at least three goals, including two this year.
Martinez said, “It’s finding the balance between knowing what’s at stake and coming at it as another playoff game.” “I think you’re focused on the process, knowing that if you play a good game … if you stick to your game, the end result will take care of itself. I think the players Nice job of going into the Games with that opportunity.”
Martinez was not on the 2019 Vegas team which allowed a sizable lead. Vegas held a 3–1 series advantage before San Jose came back and forced a Game 7. But it seemed like the Knights had a good win in hand with a 3-0 lead midway through the third period.
Then, Cody Eakin of Vegas was called for a cross-checking major that left Pavelsky bloodied, and the Sharks scored four goals in 4:01 to stun the Golden Knights. Vegas tied the game late before the Sharks won in overtime.
Calling a major was a questionable decision by the officials, so much so that the result of the play led the NHL two months later to mandate all majors undergo video review. It was too late to help the Knights, but for the handful of players still on that game’s roster, seeing Pavelski and DeBoer on the other side could be a bit troubling if Dallas builds on their Game 4 win. .
“I don’t think anybody expected anything to flow on either side,” Martinez said. “This is playoff hockey. Punches are thrown one way and then in return. He threw a good night (Thursday). It’s up to us to come back (Saturday) and be ready for that, play our A-game and Try to set your own pace at home.”
The Stars will again be without captain Jamie Benn, who will serve the last of a two-game suspension for cross-checking Vegas captain Mark Stone, who was on the ice Tuesday night. Forward Evgeny Dadonov, who played for the Knights last season, is not on the trip because of a lower-body injury, which DeBoer said is worse than originally thought.
Should the Stars win to send the series back to Dallas for Game 6, they will bring back Ben and add even more intensity to this matchup.
And maybe give yourself a real chance to make history.
Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger said, “Three out of four games in overtime shows you how tough these two teams are.” “Hopefully, (Thursday’s win) gives us the confidence that we can beat these guys.”
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawking in Dallas contributed to this report.
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