DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger was sprawled out in the crease, his right leg fully extended toward the post. It was just enough to keep the puck out of the net on the game-ending play.
Oettinger stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout, popping up and signaling no good after that last one, and Roope Hintz made the only goal in the tiebreaker after being a game-time decision for the Stars in their 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in a matchup of playoff-bound division leaders Saturday.
“Got lucky. God gave me long legs, so thankful for that,” Oettinger said of that final stop of Paul Cotter’s shot. “Just felt it on the end of my foot there, so I was hoping it stayed out, and happy it did.”
The win put Dallas at 102 points and atop the Central Division with three games left in the regular season. The Stars began the day tied with defending champion Colorado, which played Saturday night and still had three games left after that.
Pacific Division-leading Vegas did clinch home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs by getting at least a point for the 14th time in its last 16 games. The Golden Knights’ 107 points are two more than Edmonton, which won 6-1 at San Jose.
“We went to training camp, this team missed the playoffs the year before. That’s the first box we wanted to check,” first-year Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We would like to do that, conference, all those things. But at the end of the day, I think we want health going into the playoffs.”
Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud had to be helped off the ice midway through the third period after his left leg buckled awkwardly under him. Hintz fell on him after being pushed by defenseman Brayden McNabb as the teams were fighting for a puck in the corner.
Cassidy said the Whitecloud was doing OK, and that the team was “hopeful it looked worse than it may turn out to be.” Whitecould will be evaluated after the team gets home.
Hintz was limited Monday’s home game against Nashville and didn’t play Thursday because of a lower-body injury. Coach Pete DeBoer said about 90 minutes before Saturday’s game that the center was still a game-time decision.
“Grinded it out.” Coach DeBoer says.
“It was a question mark going into pregame skate at probably 50-50,” DeBoer said. “He wanted to be out there with our group, knew the importance of the game.”
After Vegas goalie Jonathan Quick had a swiping glove save to reject 103-point scorer Jason Robertson on the first shot of the shootout, Hintz was good on a 20-foot wrister in the second round.
Each team had only one shot on goal in overtime, though Vegas forward Reilly Smith hit the left post with about two minutes left.
Dallas got even at 1-1 in the middle of the second period when Joel Kiviranta scored on a wrister from just inside the top of the circle. Vegas took a 1-0 lead on Brett Howden’s sixth goal, a breakaway and a shot over Oettinger’s left shoulder with 5:39 left in the first period.
Howden’s score came not long after Oettinger had to dive forward and use his glove to smother a loose puck in traffic. Oettinger had 19 saves.
Quick, who stopped 24 shots, had a similar save late in the first period when he was sprawled on the ice and reached out with his glove to secure a loose puck.
NOTES: The five-game goal streak for Stars C Joe Pavelski was snapped. The 38-year-old Pavelski entered the game with 999 career points, and looking to become only the 11th U.S.-born 1,000-point scorer in NHL history. … Vegas forward Phil Kessel used his hand to knock a flying puck in the net past Oettinger late in the first period. That goal was immediately waved off by an official.
Golden Knights: Play their home finale Tuesday against playoff-bound Seattle.
Stars: Monday night at playoff-eliminated Detroit.
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