Friday’s NHL playoffs: Kiviranta lifts Stars past Avs in Game 7 OT thriller

Detroit News

Edmonton, Alberta — Joel Kiviranta had the most unlikely of all the goals in a wild playoff series between Dallas and Colorado, sending the Stars further than they have been in 12 years

Three of them for the rookie in a thrilling Game 7, including the winner in overtime.

Kiviranta, in his only game during the series, completed a hat track 7:24 into overtime to give Dallas a 5-4 victory Friday in Game 7, and send the Stars to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2008.

“Pretty unreal. This is what you dream about when you’re a young kid,” Kiviranta said. “I played the first Game 7 of my life. I didn’t know what to expect. … Maybe their D just lost me a little bit. They didn’t know who was picking me up. I tried to find a soft spot. It was a great pass.”

Kiviranta moved away from the crease just before his quick shot on a pass from defenseman Andrej Sekera from behind the net. Kiviranta was playing only his third postseason game, with Andrew Cogliano unfit to play, after scoring once in 11 regular-season games.

“What Kivi did was pretty spectacular,” captain Jamie Benn said. “Those are the things you dream about when you’re a kid when you’re playing in the driveway and whatnot. That just became a reality for him.”

Stars interim coach Rick Bowness was also impressed by the primary assist for the seventh Game 7 hat trick in NHL history, and first since Wayne Gretzky for the Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 conference finals.

“To tell you that we practiced Andrej behind their offensive net making those saucer passes, no, that has not been at our practice plan and our playing drills,” Bowness said. “I’m glad he knew he was behind the offensive net and not our net, where he normally is with the puck. That’s overtime hockey. And that’s bubble hockey. You just don’t know what to expect and you kind of roll with it.”

Dallas will play Sunday night against Vancouver or Vegas, who had a Game 7 of their own Friday night at Rogers Place. There had never been an NHL Game 7 played at a neutral site before the two games.

The Avalanche, who also lost in Game 7 of last season’s conference semis, were trying to get to their first conference final since 2002, and forced Game 7 after being down 3-1. Third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson, a 30-year-old journeyman who had never started a playoff game before winning consecutive elimination games, couldn’t make one more save after 31 on Friday.

“The series was back and forth, starting from Game 1 and tonight the game itself was no different. Back and forth,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Just when you think you had the one that could win the game or win the series, the other team stepped up their game and took it back over.”

Dallas, which lost in double overtime to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in the seventh game of last year’s conference semi, won its third Game 7 played against Colorado. The Stars beat the Avs in the Western Conference finals in 1999 and 2000 to make it to the Stanley Cup final. The Stars won their only title in 1999.

Alexander Radulov scored two goals for Dallas, tying it at 3 with 8:32 left in regulation. But in a series when the two teams combined for 57 goals, and were tied four times in the finale, they scored 10 seconds apart after that.

Colorado led 4-3 after Vladislav Namestnikov scored his second goal of the game. But 10 seconds later, Kiviranta scored his second.

“It’s a lot of excitement for sure right now and some kind of relief as well,” said Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who two assists.

Nazeem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who played without captain Gabriel Landeskog (unfit to play) and didn’t get a point from scoring wizard Nathan MacKinnon for the first time in 15 games this postseason.

“I think our thoughts are pretty obvious. We felt like we were outplaying them in overtime and it was coming and felt good,” MacKinnon said. “Just got hemmed in. Boys got gassed and they made a nice play. It’s tough.”

The Avs led 3-2 with 14:15 left in the second period when Kadri had a close backhander. His sixth power play goal matched Joe Sakic (1996) for the second-most in an Avalanche postseason behind Michel Goulet’s seven in 1985.

Kadri twice came oh-so-close to scoring again in that period. He had one shot ricochet off the post and Anton Khudobin was falling back when he extended his left arm for a glove save on another Kadri shot headed toward the net.

Dallas had an extra skater on the ice during a delayed penalty early in the second period rookie Denis Gurianov took a shot toward traffic, off Kiviranta’s blade and past Hutchinson.

More NHL playoffs

Las Vegas 3, Vancouver 0: Shea Theodore finally solved Thatcher Demko with 6:08 remaining in the third period and the Golden Knights edged the Canucks 3-0 on Friday night in Game 7 of their second-round series.

Theodore’s goal was the first in 138:40 for the Golden Knights against Demko, the rookie who had brought Vancouver back from a 3-1 deficit in the series and held off Vegas for most of this game, too. Then Theodore scored a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the blue line that slipped through traffic and past Demko, who had made 98 consecutive saves.

Alex Tuch and Paul Stastny added empty-net goals.

Vegas outshot the Canucks 36-15 in the game and 127-55 over the final three. It was barely enough. The Golden Knights will face Dallas for a berth in the Stanley Cup final.

Robin Lehner had his third shutout of the series, and his sensational glove save on Brock Boeser in the second period kept the game scoreless.

Vancouver missed an opportunity when it failed to convert on an extended power play after Ryan Reaves was ejected toward the end of the second period.

The Golden Knights outshot Vancouver 91-40 in Games 5 and 6 but managed only one goal in that span. It was all Vegas again at the start of Game 7, but the Canucks withstood the initial push and made it to the end of the first period in a scoreless tie. The Golden Knights had an 11-2 edge in shots.

Reilly Smith missed the net on a breakaway early in the second for Vegas, and the best save of that period actually belonged to Lehner. As he has for most of these playoffs, he got the start over Marc-Andre Fleury, and when the Canucks produced a rare scoring opportunity on a 2-on-1 break, Lehner made a lunging glove save on Boeser.

Vancouver found itself with a big opportunity with 3:30 left in the period. Reaves received a major penalty and was ejected for a hit to the head of Tyler Motte, but that power play – which extended into the third period – was fruitless.

That call on Reaves seemed less controversial than the penalty that sank Vegas last season. In Game 7 of a first-round series against San Jose, the Golden Knights were up 3-0 when Cody Eakin was given a major penalty for cross-checking. The Sharks scored four quick goals and eventually won in overtime.

Nicolas Roy finally beat Demko to the glove side with about 12 minutes to go, but the shot hit the post. Then Vegas easily killed off another Vancouver power play as it became increasingly clear that the first goal would probably decide it.

Vancouver’s J.T. Miller was called for hooking with 6:13 remaining, and Vegas needed only a few seconds to score.

With the Canucks out, Canada again won’t have a Stanley Cup champion. The last team from Canada to win it all was Montreal in 1993.

Conference semifinals

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Philadelphia 3, (6) N.Y. Islanders 3

Monday, Aug. 24: N.Y. Islanders 4, Philadelphia 0

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Philadelphia 4, N.Y. Islanders 3, OT

Thursday, Aug. 27: Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Islanders, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: N.Y. Islanders 3, Philadelphia 1

Sunday, Aug. 30: N.Y. Islanders 3, Philadelphia 2

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Philadelphia 4, N.Y. Islanders 3, OT

Thursday, Sept. 3: Philadelphia 5, N.Y. Islanders 4, 2OT

Saturday, Sept. 5: N.Y. Islanders vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

(2) Tampa Bay 4, (4) Boston 1

Sunday, Aug. 23: Boston 3, Tampa Bay 2

Tuesday, Aug. 25 : Tampa Bay 4, Boston 3, OT

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Tampa Bay 7, Boston 1

Friday, Aug. 28: Tampa Bay vs. Boston, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: Tampa Bay 3, Boston 1

Monday, Aug. 31: Tampa Bay 3, Boston 2, 2OT

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Las Vegas 4, (5) Vancouver 3

Sunday, Aug. 23: Las Vegas 5, Vancouver 0

Tuesday, Aug. 25: Vancouver 5, Las Vegas 2

Thursday, Aug. 27: Las Vegas vs. Vancouver, ppd.

Saturday, Aug. 29: Las Vegas 3, Vancouver 0

Sunday, Aug. 30: Las Vegas 5, Vancouver 3

Tuesday, Sept. 1: Vancouver 2, Las Vegas 1

Thursday, Sept. 3: Vancouver 4, Las Vegas 0

Friday, Sept. 4: Las Vegas 3, Vancouver 0

(3) Dallas 4, (2) Colorado 3

Saturday, Aug. 22: Dallas 5,Colorado 3

Monday, Aug. 24: Dallas 5, Colorado 2

Wednesday, Aug. 26: Colorado 6, Dallas 4

Friday, Aug. 28: Colorado vs. Dallas, ppd.

Sunday, Aug. 30: Dallas 5, Colorado 4

Monday, Aug. 31: Colorado 6, Dallas 3

Wednesday, Sept. 2: Colorado 4, Dallas 1

Friday, Sept. 4: Dallas 5, Colorado 4, OT

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