Dallas Stars knock out defending champion Vegas Golden Knights with Game 7 win

The Vegas Golden Knights are one-and-done Stanley Cup champions after the Dallas Stars knocked them out 2-1 on Sunday night.

The big difference in Game 7: Vegas’ Jack Eichel missed a great opportunity with 13 seconds left in the second period when his backhander went wide of an open net and Radek Faska connected with his backhander 44 seconds into the third period.

Eichel's shot hit the outside of the Stars' net. Faksa, who was back in the lineup after an injury, took a pass of his skate in the faceoff circle after the Stars' fourth line had cycled the puck. He kicked the puck to his stick and his shot beat a screened Vegas goalie Adin Hill.

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"It was the biggest goal of my career," he told the TNT studio crew after the game. "After every pregame skate, I play mini-stick hockey with my son and I promised him I would score a goal tonight and I’m glad I did. I’m so excited to show him the video of the goal in the morning."

Stars coach Peter DeBoer improved to 8-0 behind the bench in Game 7s as Dallas played a nearly perfect defensive game. The Stars held Vegas to 23 shots, blocked 24 shots and outhit the Golden Knights 49-37. Defenseman Chris Tanev, acquired at the trade deadline, had five blocked shots and five hits.

The only shot to get past Stars goalie Jake Oettinger was when Brett Howden deflected in a Michael Amadio pass off a rush in the second period. That tied the game 1-1.

Dallas' Wyatt Johnson scored the opening goal after a Golden Knights turnover in the first period.

The Golden Knights beat the Stars in the Western Conference final last season on the way to the Stanley Cup title. Dallas had home-ice advantage in this year's series as the Western Conference's top seed while Vegas dropped to the second wild-card spot because of injuries.

Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy noted that the team had nine surgeries during the course of the season.

“That’s a lot of surgeries in one year for guys to overcome and it defines your game," he said. "If we could have built it a little better in March and April, maybe it goes smoother in the playoff round, but that’s the hand you’re dealt. We needed to be one goal better at the end of the day.”

The Stars lost the first two games at home, but they advance after they won four of the last five games of the series, including Games 3-5.

"Up 2-0, it would have been nice to find a way to win one of those three games there," Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. "They made some adjustments, and I don’t think we adjusted well enough right away. But that’s on us as players to find a way, up 2-0, to get the job done."

What's next for the Dallas Stars?

They head to the second round to face the Colorado Avalanche. They will have home-ice advantage in this series, too.

Colorado had a 3-1 record vs. the Stars in the regular season with the Avalanche winning one of the games in overtime. Oettinger didn’t have a strong series, going 1-2 with a 4.74 goals-against average and .863 save percentage.

What's next for the Vegas Golden Knights?

They won the trade deadline and key acquisitions Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl are signed long-term. But their list of unrestricted free agents is lengthy, including 2023 playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, trade deadline acquisition Anthony Mantha, Amadio, William Carrier and Alec Martinez. Management has some tough decisions to make.

“It’s an unfortunate part of the business," Pietrangelo said. "But there’s a lot of good people in here. Obviously we’d love to keep everybody together if we can."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dallas Stars oust Golden Knights in Game 7, end NHL champions' reign