Golden Knights move within a win of Stanley Cup Final after Benn and Stars slump early

The Vegas Golden Knights kept their cool and got the best comeback after a nasty early blow against their captain.

They have a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals and are just one win away from advancing to another Stanley Cup Final.

Ivan Barbashev scored a power-play goal after Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was ejected for his hit on Mark Stone less than two minutes into the game. It was the second of three goals for the Golden Knights in the first 7 1/2 minutes, leading to an out for goaltender Jake Oettinger as they won 4-0 in Game 3 at Dallas on Tuesday night.

β€œYou keep your cool,” said Alex Pietrangelo, who added a goal midway through the second period.

After the two captains collided near the blue line and Stone fell to the ice, Benn lunged forward with both hands on his stick and made contact near Stone’s neck as he slipped on the center line.

“We’re upset when we see that, he’s our captain,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But at the end of the day they make a call which gives us a chance to make them pay the penalty. And we did it with a goal anyway, so we doubled our lead…. it the right way. That’s been our mindset from the start.”

While Oettinger had the shortest start to his career, Vegas goaltender Adin Hill stopped 34 shots on his first playoff shutout.

After four straight comeback wins in these playoffs, including two home overtime wins to start the best-of-seven series, the Golden Knights were in control throughout.

Game 4 takes place Thursday night, when Vegas has the opportunity to advance to its second Stanley Cup Finals in the franchise’s six seasons.

The Golden Knights were Western Conference champions in their inaugural 2017-18 season, then lost the Cup Final in five games after winning the opener against the Washington Capitals. Vegas missed the playoffs for the only time last season, before head coach Pete DeBoer was fired before becoming Stars coach.

“We have to live with the consequences”

Johnathan Marchessault scored just 71 seconds into the game, which was just 42 seconds before Benn was given a game foul after a five-minute major for cross-checking.

“Let’s put it this way. He made a mistake. He feels really bad about it. I don’t think anybody in the building feels worse than him about it,” DeBoer said. “I’m not going to pile it on, he’s been a leader here his whole career and leads every day on and off the ice. … Luckily Mark Stone is fine, and we have to live with the consequences.”

The Stars played the rest of the game without Benn, who could also face an NHL suspension after the league reviewed the game.

Just before Benn’s early exit, he had a wrist that was stopped by Hill but initially was still loose under the goalie as Benn tried to get his stick back on it.

Barbashev’s goal, which later got two assists, was one of only three shots the Knights made on net during the five-minute penalty. His 30-foot wrist for a 2-0 lead came after Ty Dellandrea’s shorthanded break was blocked. Nicolas Roy takes the rebound the other way and passes to Barbashev.

“What goes unnoticed in there is Adin Hill’s save on the 2-on-1 shorthand…and we go down and score,” Cassidy said. “Those 15 seconds of hockey have a huge impact on the game.”

Oettinger was removed and replaced by Scott Wedgewood after William Carrier’s backhand made it 3-0 with 12:50 to go in the first period.

Oettinger, 24, has now lost three straight starts. He lost four of five, with the win coming after making 22 saves for the Stars in their 2-1 win in Game 7 of Western’s semi-final against Seattle.

Wedgewood stopped 10 of 11 shots, with Pietrangelo’s goal coming just a second after a power play ended as Miro Heiskanen came out of the penalty area.

β€œI have never seen so many things on the ice”

Stars center Max Domi was given a game misconduct with 21 seconds left in the second period. After his countercheck against Nicolas Hague, Domi started throwing punches.

“I think you know exactly what this is about,” Hague said when asked what led up to this incident. “There’s no reason for me to get involved in anything. It is what it is, and we got a big win.”

Fans in the arena reacted to the ensuing penalty by throwing water bottles, food and other items onto the ice. With extended time needed to clear the playing surface, officials sent both teams to their locker rooms early for the second intermission with the Knights up 4-0.

Those final 21 seconds were played after intermission before the clock was reset to 20 minutes for the third period.

“It was a little weird,” Hill said. “I’ve never seen so much stuff on the ice, that’s for sure.”

Golden Knights’ Teddy Blueger (53) helps clear the ice after fans threw debris during the second period. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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