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Stanley Cup action set to kick off as conference finals come to a close

The Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights are facing off in the Western Conference finals this year in the NHL Bubble located in Edmonton, Alberta. The Dallas Stars were the 

wild-card seed in the West and Vegas was the No. 3 seed in the West entering the playoffs. 

The Dallas Stars won game one of the series by a score of 1-0 on Sept. 6. Defenseman John Klingberg of Dallas scored the first and only goal of the game. Goaltender Anton Khudobin completed the game with 25 saves in the shutout for the Stars. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots as game one was quite the even matchup between the two teams.

The Golden Knights won game two to even up the series at 1-1. After not scoring a goal in game one, forward Paul Stastny found the back of the net first for Vegas. Stastny also had an assist, setting up forward Tomas Nosek in the slot for an easy goal to give the Golden Knights a two-goal advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish. Vegas goaltender Robert Lehner picked up his fourth shutout of the season making 24 saves on the night while tying the series at one.

Game three of the series was decided in overtime where the Stars found the back of the net in the 3-2 contest to go up 2-1 in the series. Forward Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime off a right circle pass from forward Joe Pavelski. Forwards Jamie Benn and Oleksiak both picked up the other goals for the Stars while Khudobin made 38 saves for the Stars.  Vegas took 40 shots while the Stars only had 23 shots on goal, but ended up finding the back of the net when it mattered. The Stars, on efficient shooting, took the 2-1 series lead.

In-game four, Dallas’ revitalized offense continued to produce on limited shooting. Pavelski and Benn carried the torch for the Stars once more, with each scoring a goal while collectively only taking five shots at the net. Lehner played exceptionally well, but Pavelski and Benn remain as his kryptonite throughout the series thus far. Vegas took 33 shots on goal, but the stalwart play from Khudobin only let a lone goal past from defenseman Alec Martinez. Dallas has a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, but Vegas looks to bounce back in game five on Monday, Sept. 14, with a puck drop at 8 p.m. 

Representing the eastern conference, the second-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning has been facing off against the sixth-seeded New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Finals best of seven series. 

In a blowout game one, Tampa Bay made a statement against New York, taking the 1-0 series lead after scoring eight goals in their win over the Islanders. Forward Brayden Point led the way for the Lightning, scoring two goals and contributing three assists while forward Nikkita Kucherov had one goal and four assists on the night. The Lightning were swarming the Islanders net the entire game, having 34 shots on goal to the Islanders 24.

Tampa Bay picked up where they left off in game two, with a closer 2-1 victory over the Islanders. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevkiy made 27 saves on 28 shots to help the Lightning secure game two of the series. Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman scored for the Lightning. For the Islanders, forward Matt Martin scored the lone goal for them as it was not enough for the Islanders to take game two. 

New York managed to rally themselves in game three, stunning the Lightning with their own impressive offensive outing, winning 5-3 on Friday, Sept. 11. 

Forward Cal Clutterbuck started off the scoring for the Islanders in the first period. Forward Brock Nelson added a goal and an assist for the Islanders. Forward Anthony Beauvillier also added a goal and an assist to help the Islanders get their first win of the series to put it at 2-1 in favor of the Lightning.

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