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Golden Knights move within 1 win of Stanley Cup final after Benn, Stars unravel early

The Vegas Golden Knights kept their composure and got the best payback after an ugly blow against their captain.

They have a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals and are now one win away from another Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Ivan Barbashev scored after Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was sent off for a hit on Mark Stone less than two minutes into the game. It was the second of three Golden Knights goals in the first 7 1/2 minutes that led to goaltender Jake Ettinger as they cruised to a 4-0 win in Game 3 in Dallas on Tuesday night.

“You keep your composure,” said Alex Pietrangelo, who scored midway through the second period.

After the two captains collided near the blue line and Stone fell to the ice, Ben lunged forward with both hands and made contact near Stone’s neck as he skated across the center line.

“We are sad when we see that, he is our captain,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. “But at the end of the day they make the call that gives us the opportunity to make them pay for the penalty. And we did by one goal anyway, so we doubled our lead. Do it the right way. That’s right. has been our mindset all along.”

While Oettinger had the shortest start of his career, Vegas goalie Adin Hill stopped 34 shots in his first career postseason shutout.

After four straight comeback wins in these playoffs, including two overtime wins at home to start a best-of-seven series, the Golden Knights were in control all the way in this game.

Game 4 is Thursday night, when Vegas will have a chance to advance to its second Stanley Cup Final in the franchise’s six seasons.

The Golden Knights were Western Conference champions in their inaugural 2017-18 season, then lost in five games in the Bowl Finals after winning Game 1 against the Washington Capitals. Vegas missed the playoffs for the only time last season before head coach Pete DeBoer was fired before becoming coach of the Stars.

“We have to live with the consequences”

Jonathan Marchesso scored just 71 seconds into the game, which was just 42 seconds before Benn was assessed a game misconduct for a cross-check after a five-minute major.

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

The Stars played late in the game without Benn, who also could be suspended from the NHL after the league reviews the play.

Just before Benn left early, he had a wrister that was stopped by Hill, but was initially still loose under the keeper as Benn tried to put his stick back on it.

The goal by Barbashev, who later added two assists, was one of three shots the Knights put on net in the five-minute penalty period. His 30-footer made it 2-0 after Ty Delandrea’s short break was blocked. Nicholas Roy countered and passed to Barbashev.

“The thing that goes unnoticed there is Adin Hill’s save on a 2-on-1 shorthanded … and we go down and score,” Cassidy said. “That 15 seconds of hockey has a big impact on the game.”

Oettinger was pulled and replaced by Scott Wedgwood after William Carrier’s layup made it 3-0 with 12:50 left in the first period.

Oettinger, 24, has now lost three straight starts. He has lost four of five, the win coming when he had 22 saves for the Stars in a 2-1 win against Seattle in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Wedgwood stopped 10 of 11 shots and Pietrangelo’s goal came just one second into the period on the power play as Miro Heiskanen was coming in from the penalty box.

“I’ve never seen so many things on ice.”

Stars center Max Dome was fouled with 21 seconds left in the second period. After his cross-check against Nicolas Hague, Domi started throwing punches.

“I think you guys know exactly what is being discussed,” Hague said when asked what led to the incident. “There’s no reason for me to be involved in anything. It is what it is and we won big.”

Fans in the arena reacted to the ensuing penalty by throwing water bottles, food and other items onto the ice. It took a long time to clear the field, with officials sending both teams to their locker rooms early for the second intermission, with the Knights winning 4-0.

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

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

A hockey player picks up ice debris with his stick as arena workers clean the ice in the background.
Teddy Bluger (53) of the Golden Knights helps clear the ice after fans threw debris during the second period. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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