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Western Conference Finals preview and prediction: Can Dallas defeat Vegas once again?

The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights square off in a 2020 semifinal rematch.

DALLAS — In a rematch of the 2020 Stanley Cup Semifinals, the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights will face off in the Western Conference Finals and battle it out for the right to play for the NHL's highest prize.

Dallas won the series in five games that year in the Edmonton bubble, before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final during the Covid-19 tournament that took place later in the summer.

In an interesting twist, it was Pete DeBoer who coached Vegas in a losing effort back in 2020, and he's now behind the bench for the Stars, who replaced him with Bruce Cassidy.

Similarly, Vegas assistant coach John Stevens held the same role with the Stars until a year ago.

Add it all up, and these two clubs know each other pretty well.

The Stars won all three regular-season games against the Golden Knights, although two of them were decided in a shootout.

It should be a tight and long series, as outlined by Locked on Stars host Dane Lewis and Tony Cordasco of Locked on Golden Knights.

Locked On has a daily podcast for EVERY NHL team, find yours today!

Roope Hintz and Jack Eichel lead their teams in scoring respectively, with the Stars center leading all remaining active players with 19 points through 13 gamers.

This series will be a showdown between two of the best centers in the Western Conference, both of whom are raising their games in the playoffs so far.

An x-factor could be Joe Pavelski. He's been playing high-level hockey in search of his first Cup. 

This series will likely be decided in net, though, with 24-year-old Jake Oettinger possibly on the verge of regaining his sparkling 2022 playoff form. He's only 8-5 with a .903 save percentage in the postseason, but stepped up in a Game 7 win over the Seattle Kraken by making 22 saves on 23 shots in a 2-1 win.

It'll be Adin Hill in net for Vegas. He's 3-1 with a .934 save percentage since coming in to relieve an injured Laurent Brossoit in the second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers.

Look for Miro Heiskanen to thrive on the big stage, and for the Stars to advance to the Final in a hard-fought series.

Prediction: Dallas in 6.

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