Kiviranta scores in OT for Stars in game 7, Knights solve Demko to advance

·3 min read
Dallas Stars Joel Kiviranta, 25, is congratulated by teammate Jamie Oleksiak after scoring the overtime winner against the Colorado Avalanche in game seven of the Western Conference second round playoff series
Dallas Stars Joel Kiviranta, 25, is congratulated by teammate Jamie Oleksiak after scoring the overtime winner against the Colorado Avalanche in game seven of the Western Conference second round playoff series

Joel Kiviranta capped his hat trick by scoring the overtime winner as the Dallas Stars punched their ticket to the NHL Western Conference finals Friday with a 5-4 win in game seven over the Colorado Avalanche.

Kiviranta got open in front of the Colorado net and took a pass from Andrej Sekera then beat Avs goaltender Michael Hutchinson with a one-timer 7:24 into the overtime.

It was the first career hat trick for the 24-year-old Finn, who also scored in the second period to tie the game 2-2 and in the third to tie it 4-4 which set the stage for his overtime heroics in the NHL's quarantine hub in Edmonton, Alberta.

"This is what you dream about when you are a young kid," said the 24-year-old rookie forward, who scored just one goal in the regular season. "This is the first game seven in my life. I didn't know what to expect."

Kiviranta's second goal came late in the third and just 10 seconds after Vladislav Namestnikov had scored to give Colorado a 4-3 lead with 3:40 left.

The Stars advanced to the NHL's final four where they will face the Vegas Golden Knights, who shut out the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to win their series in seven games. The first game of the series is Sunday in Edmonton.

Despite having to rally three times from deficits on Friday -- from 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 -- the Stars controlled the play and look more confident with the puck in overtime.

Whenever the Stars and Avalanche have met there has been plenty of fireworks and this series was no different. In seven games the two teams combined for 57 goals.

Slovakian defenceman Sekera started the play on the winning goal by skating along the boards then stopping behind the Colorado net and waiting for Kiviranta to give the Avalanche defenceman the slip and get open.

"Their defence lost me a bit and they didn't know who was going to pick me up. I tried to find a soft spot and it was a great pass," Kiviranta said.

Kiviranta is an undrafted free agent who joined the Stars late last year after spending his entire career playing for teams in Finland.

He played just 11 games this season for Dallas and was inserted into the lineup halfway through this series to replace injured forward Andrew Cogliano.

"We had a secret Finnish weapon," said Stars captain Jamie Benn.

Russian Alexander Radulov also scored twice for Dallas, who advanced to their first Conference finals since 2008.

Namestnikov scored twice and Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri had a goal each for Colorado.

- Lehner golden for Knights -

Vegas goalie Robin Lehner stopped 14 shots for the shutout and the Golden Knights killed off a five-minute penalty to Ryan Reaves -- who was thrown out of the game for vicious check to the head on Canucks forward Tyler Motte.

The Golden Knights finally solved Vancouver's rookie netminder Thatcher Demko, who was coming off two straight wins over Vegas and kept Friday's winner-take-all showdown close until the final minutes.

Defenceman Shea Theodore scored the eventual winner with just over six minutes left in the third period, snapping the 0-0 tie by sneaking a long wrist shot through a maze of players and into the top corner of the Vancouver net.

"He's a great goalie. We had a lot of quality chances, it was good to see that one go in," said Canada's Theodore.

Vegas outshot Vancouver 34-14 but they couldn't beat American Demko until the second half of the final period.

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