Radek Faksa’s natural hat trick leads Stars past Golden Knights 3-0

Something is in the water in the fair city of Las Vegas, and the Golden Knights have reaped the benefits. They simply refuse to lose on their home ice (9-1-0) in a surprising inaugural expansion season in which just about everyone expected them to play hard, but nothing more. Their dominate play at the T-Mobile Arena has served to change the perception of them from cute story to legitimate playoff threat. The Dallas Stars needed to stay away from the um…water to improve their woeful road record (3-8-1) and fortunately had their father’s and mentors along for their annual Father’s Trip to help them.

Though Radek Faksa was the only Star to not have a father or mentor in tow, the young Czech absolutely owned the second period with a natural hat trick, his career first, to stun the Golden Knights and put his team in the win column. It was the second straight hat trick posted for the Stars as Tyler Seguin had one against Calgary. Ben Bishop also played one of his best games of the season for the Stars, turning in a shutout on 34 saves.

The first five minutes were played at a blistering pace, and the Golden Knights showed why they’re the real deal. The Stars mucked it up in front of the net a couple of times and tried to force the puck through shooting lanes. The Golden Knights countered an errant Alexander Radulov pass with a 2-on-1 that led to a wrist shot from James Neal. Stars goaltender Ben Bishop had to be sharp as the Golden Knights were crisp with their zone entries and set up multiple chances from dangerous areas of the ice. Seguin attempted a pass to Julius Honka that was turned over and led to a scoring chance for Vegas.

John Klingberg made a head scratching turnover right in front of his net, as he is prone to do once in awhile, and it led to two point blank chances for the Golden Knights. Klingberg believed he was hooked on the play by the forechecking Oscar Lindberg, but no call was made. The Golden Knights were the aggressor in the first period, and Bishop, who finished the period with 15 saves, seemed intent on doing to them what the injured Marc-Andre Fleury did to the Stars in Dallas’ home opener.

In the second period Radulov came in on a one-man forecheck, forced a shot with his backhand, and drew the first penalty of the game as he was being held by Nate Schmidt. The much maligned drop pass was malfunctioning for the Stars, and they failed to challenge Malcom Subban on the power play. An awkward exchange between Klingberg and his partner Esa Lindell led to a another turnover behind their blue line and another scoring chance for the Golden Knights.

Seguin had a transition breakaway that was sparked by an excellent outlet pass but couldn’t elevate the puck over Subban’s shin pad. Jason Spezza came in to try and clean up the rebound, but the Vegas fourth-stringer made two spectacular saves. Devin Shore was in prime position in front of the net for a premium chance when a puck found his stick. He swatted at it, but Subban’s skate flared out to keep the puck out of the net. The Stars drew a hooking penalty and went on the power play. Seguin committed a trip thirty seconds in to send the game to 4-on-4.

Then Faksa took over as the open ice seemed to do the trick for the Stars. After some slick passing as the Stars were probing the offensive zone, Dan Hamhuis found Faksa for a one timer that finally cracked Subban glove side. Late in the period, the Seguin line, with Stephen Johns and Honka on the blue line, had an excellent shift in the offensive zone that had the Golden Knights gassed. Though they didn’t record a shot on the shift, it was the type of effort they would have to string together if they were going to keep the lead.

Then Faksa happened again. Brett Ritchie kept the puck in the zone, and found Gemel Smith who centered the puck through a couple defenders. Faksa cashed in his second before Subban could recover. The Golden Knights challenged the play for goaltender interference due to Subban’s stick being caught in Smith’s skate, but the call on the ice was upheld.

On the last shift of the period, Faksa won the face-off and got it to Antoine Roussel. Faksa and Tyler Pitlick joined the rush and got cleanly past some loafing defenders. Roussel went tic-tac-toe to Pitlick, then Faksa who completed the natural hat trick. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the building.

The Golden Knights came out in the third period with an initial push, and the Stars needed Bishop to stand tall again. Pitlick had a 2-on-1 with Esa Lindell flanking him. The Stars did a decent job clearing their own crease and had to ice the puck a couple of times. Neal unleashed a screaming one timer that missed the net while the Stars were desperate for a change. Hamhuis was called for a trip to give the Golden Knights their second power play. The Stars put together a nice penalty kill anchored by Bishop once again.

From there the Stars’ strategy was to keep possession, out change the Golden Knights, and stay out of the penalty box. Vegas was clearly frustrated and committed a slashing minor to put the Stars on the power play for the final two minutes of the game. Dallas played out the string without taking any risks and passed an important test on the road, beating the Golden Knights in convincing fashion.

The Goals

Second Period

12:55 Dan Hamhuis was in deep on the 4-on-4, and found Radek Faksa in the slot who beat Malcom Subban with a one timer. Greg Pateryn had the secondary assist. Stars 1, Golden Knights 0

19:33 Radek Faksa scored his second goal after Brett Ritchie held the puck in the zone. Ritchie found Gemel Smith, who centered to Faksa for the tap-in. Stars 2, Golden Knights 0

19:41 Radek Faksa completed the natural hat trick off a rush. Antoine Roussel initiated a tic-tac-toe play that went to Tyler Pitlick, then Faksa in the slot. Stars 3, Golden Knights 0

Golden Knights lineup
Brendan Leipsic — Derek Haula — James Neal
Johnathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Tomas Nosek — Cody Eakin — Alex Tuch
Oscar Lindberg — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Stefan Matteau

Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore — Deryk Engelland
Colin Miller — Brad Hunt

Malcom Subban
Maxime Lagace

Injured: Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Oscar Dansk (lower body), David Perron (upper body), Luca Sbisa (upper body), William Carrier (upper body)

Scratched: Jon Merrill

Stars lineup
Devin Shore — Jamie Benn — Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark — Tyler Seguin — Jason Spezza
Gemel Smith — Martin Hanzal — Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel — Radek Faksa — Tyler Pitlick

Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis — Greg Pateryn
Stephen Johns — Julius Honka

Ben Bishop
Kari Lehtonen

Injured: Marc Methot (knee)

Scratched: Remi Elie, Jamie Oleksiak

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