x
Breaking News
More () »

Dallas's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Dallas, Texas | WFAA.com

Who?!: Unlikely heroes lead Dallas Stars past Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final, 4-1

Hanley. Oleksiak. Kiviranta. Just who everyone expected.
Credit: AP
Dallas Stars left wing Joel Kiviranta (25) in overtime the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Denver. Dallas won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

EDMONTON, AB β€” The Dallas Stars did not reach the Stanley Cup Final by accident. The Calgary Flames know that. The Colorado Avalanche know that. The Vegas Golden Knights know that.

Now the Tampa Bay Lightning do, too.

Despite getting out-shot 36 to 19, the Stars made the most of their attempts en route to a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

How or why some people (and "experts") thought Dallas didn't belong in the Cup Final is mind-boggling.

RELATED: Stanley Cup Preview: Motivators, X-factors and game-changers for Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning

The Stars have the makeup of a Stanley Cup Champion: strong blue line play, hot goalkeeping and veteran forwards with Cup experience.

Furthermore, the Stars have won in multiple different ways during the 2020 playoffs. They've mounted eight comebacks, they've won shootouts (figuratively and literally) and they've won games 1-0.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was a hybrid of everything we've seen from the Stars over the previous 21 games from the NHL bubble in Edmonton.

And if you yelled "Who?!" each time the Stars scored, I'm sure you were not alone.

Once again, Stars goalie Anton Khudobin stood on his head -- making 35 saves on 36 shots. 

It was yet another stellar effort from the 34-year-old goalkeeper who replaced Stars incumbent starter Ben Bishop who remains out as "unfit to play."

Tampa Bay's lone goal was the epitome of "puck luck" -- a shot from forward Barclay Goodrow ricocheted off the skate of forward Yanni Gourde and then again off the skate of Stars forward Roope Hintz.

"They got lucky, but it didn't faze us," asserted Stars captain Jamie Benn after the game.

RELATED: New to the Stars bandwagon? Here's how to (try to) sound smart when watching the Stanley Cup with your friends

Once again, the Dallas defensemen filled up the box score. Of the 10 points awarded to Stars players in Game 1, five went to defensemen, including the first two goals of the game.

"Big part of our group, big part of our offense," Benn said. "We try to use them a bit more."

In the first period, Hintz took control of a loose puck and dished it to a flashing Joel Hanley who beat Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for the first score of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

It was the first goal of Hanley's NHL career.

Hanley is not a household name for Stars fans. He's played in 46 regular-season games and eight playoff games in his five-year career.

It was the Stars' first 1st Period goal since Game 1 of the Western Conference Final vs. Vegas.

RELATED: Overcoming adversity: 5 hurdles the Dallas Stars cleared en route to first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years

Hanley was not the only surprise goal-scorer of the night.

In the second period, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak controlled a beaut of a pass from forward Alexander Radulov, ripped the puck on net, corralled the rebound and buried it to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.

After scoring three goals during the 2019-2020 regular season, Oleksiak has scored five goals in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs including one in each playoff series.

Later in the second period, forward Joel Kiviranta knocked home another one to give Dallas a 3-1 lead.

The Stars have now scored a playoff-leading 27 goals in the second period. That's... outrageous.

The 24-year-old undrafted kid from Finland has become somewhat of a folk hero to hockey fans.

Before the playoffs, he appeared in 11 games and scored one NHL goal in his career.

In nine playoff games, Kiviranta has scored five goals -- a hat trick in the decisive Game 7 vs. Colorado, the game-tying goal in the series-clinching Game 5 vs. Vegas and now a goal in the Stanley Cup.

The Stars' first three goal-scorers (Hanley, Oleksiak, Kiviranta) combined for just four goals during the regular season.

Stars forward Jason Dickinson capped off the night with an empty-netter later in the third period.

Despite a team full of veteran forwards like Benn, Tyler Seguin, Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski, it was as a smattering of unlikely heroes leading them to victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

They're not there by accident.