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Pavelski lifts Stars over Golden Knights in OT to avoid sweep

Joe Pavelski admits he probably appreciates the big playoff goals the later he gets in his career. But they’re all doing just as well, and his last season kept the Dallas Stars alive.

“Just really living in the moment,” Pavelski said. “It’s definitely a great feeling and we’re happy to be able to play another game and go from there and try to extend it.”

Pavelski, 38, scored on the power play at 3:18 of overtime, one shot from the middle of the left circle to the far post, and the Stars avoided a 3-all Western Conference final. 2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

Jason Robertson had two goals in his first career multi-goal playoff game for Dallas, which was playing without suspended captain Jamie Benn.

“We’re looking for goals and that’s my responsibility that I put on myself,” Robertson said. “I know these playoffs were tough … I was able to get the rebounds we needed tonight.”

Jake Oettinger had 37 saves, two nights after the 24-year-old Stars goaltender was pulled with 7:10 left in Game 3 after allowing three goals on five shots.

The Stars had the man advantage in overtime after Brayden McNabb’s penalty kick on Ty DeLandrea. 50 seconds into the power play, Pavelski scored on a pass from Miro Heiskanen. They won their five OT games for the first time this postseason; Vegas won the first two games of this series in past regulation.

It was just the second Vegas penalty of the game, both high-sticking calls against McNabb. Pavelski’s penalty kick late in the first period set up the power play as Robertson scored his first goal with some nifty sticks.

Pavelski, in his 15th NHL season and still looking for his first Stanley Cup, scored his ninth goal in 12 games this postseason, but his first in five games. He has 73 career postseason goals, the most by a US-born player and the most by any active player.

“He’s ageless… I’ve seen that movie over and over again. It never gets old,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “He lives for those moments and wants to be in those situations. Always has and delivers almost every time.”

Benny was suspended for two games by the NHL on Wednesday for his cross-check on Vegas captain Mark Stone’s neck in the first two minutes of Game 3 on Tuesday night. Ben will also miss Saturday night’s Game 5 in Las Vegas.

“Our efforts were not enough”

William Carlson and Jonathan Marcheso scored for Vegas. Adin Hill had his five-game hitting streak snapped. He made 39 saves, including an overtime game save with his left foot, with nearly two minutes left in regulation on rookie Fred Olofsson’s fumble attempt in his first career playoff game.

“Our effort was not good enough. Closing out the series is probably the toughest game in the series, right, so it wasn’t good enough from our group,” Marchessault said. “It was still a one-goal game in overtime. It was just for us.”

Karlsson and Marcheson are among six original Vegas players still with the team from the inaugural 2017-18 season, which ended with the Knights winning the Stanley Cup, although they lost five games after beating the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Vegas missed a chance to complete the sweep, one night after the Florida Panthers completed a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals.

Vegas took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period when Marcheso, in front of the net with his stick on Ryan Suter’s back, scored on a pass between the Stars defenseman’s legs from McNabb, another Golden Knight original.

Robertson’s tying goal late in the period ricocheted off the backboard just seconds after he hit another shot off the post. It was his fourth goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs, becoming the first Dallas player to reach 100 points this regular season.

On his first goal late in the first to tie the score at 1-1, Robertson deflected Heiskanen’s shot from just the blue line into the air. As Hill tried to secure the puck in his glove, Robertson pulled it free, then reached over and slid his stick across the net parallel to the ice.

With former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and wrestling great Ric Flair both in the building in All-Star jerseys, Dallas avoided the playoffs for the first time since 2001 with a second-round loss against St. Louis. It was the Stars’ 21st playoff streak since then.

The Golden Knights scored first again, though not like those three quick goals in Game 3 that led to Oettinger’s earliest ejection.

Karlsson pushed a puck and skated to the front of the net after a pass to Nicholas Roy, whose pass through traffic bounced off the Dallas stick before Reilly Smith got it in from the right circle and fired home. Just 4:17 into the period, Karlsson’s deflection off Oettinger was his eighth goal of the season.

“There were a lot of chances,” said Smith, who was also in Vegas from the start. “I don’t think we did a good enough job of making it difficult for them. So we get another chance in two days.”

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