The Vegas Golden Knights lost to the Dallas Stars on Thursday in Game 4.
“Our effort level, I think it was not good enough,” Vegas’ Marchessault said. “Closing a series, it’s probably the hardest game of the series, right? So, it’s just not good enough for our group.”
The Dallas Stars were victorious at home with a 3-2 overtime win, while the Vegas Golden Knights, who are up 3-1 in the Western Conference final, have another chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at home.
“There’s always things we’ll look at, our breakout executions and support, getting to our areas, but they’re a good team too,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They have good players. Their top players finished plays for them. When that happens, good things happen for your team.”
The Golden Knights won both of their earlier home games of this series in overtime. The Florida Panthers, who defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, will face the winner.
The Stars, also missing injured forward Evgenii Dadonov, needed their best players to step up and extend the series and they got big performances. Jason Robertson scored two goals in regulation and Joe Pavelski scored on a power play at 3:18 of overtime after Vegas’ Brayden McNabb was called for high-sticking.
The Golden Knights lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1. Game 5 is at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“I thought they were way better today,” Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “We’re trying to play the right way, but their desperation was a little higher than ours. At this time of the year, it’s not about X’s and O’s, it’s about who wants it more and I thought they wanted it more than us tonight.”
It was clear the Stars were the better team for the first 40 minutes even though the score then was 2-2
They had a 30-23 advantage in shots on goal and a 53-37 edge in total shot attempts. They also had 56.7 percent of the face-offs (21 of 38), including 72.2 percent in the first period (13 of 18).
“I thought our breakout was not good enough,” Marchessault agreed, and Cassidy said;
“That’s on us. We weren’t fast early on. I don’t think we managed pucks well below the goal line. Now by the time you get it out, you’re tired. You’re changing and you’re not in your structure when they’re coming through there.”
The early slack gave Dallas more chance in the middle of the ice than it had in the first three games.
“They were better than us,” Cassidy added. “They won more puck battles. If you look at the face-offs, they were heavily tilted toward them. That’s your first competing act on the shift is the face-off. We weren’t there, but we got there in the third period. I thought that was the one period we outplayed them and both goalies were good, made some saves.”
Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger was also topnotch in the third period, saving all 14 shots from the Golden Knights
Vegas goalie Adin Hill also stopped all eight he faced in the third, including a sublime left pad save on Fredrik Olofsson with 1:58 remaining. He made a total of 39 saves.
“He was excellent,” Cassidy said. “Can’t fault him on any of the goals.”