After getting themselves into a 3-0 hole, Dallas was able to battle back with back-to-back wins. However, a blowout loss in Game 6 ended the Stars' shot at getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2020.
Below, we take a look at what went wrong.
Lack of Scoring
Coming into the matchup, the Stars had been the better offensive team in the regular season. But across their six games in the series, Dallas managed just 12 goals total. The six games included two shutout losses, along with only one game where they scored more than three goals. For comparison, Vegas scored 21 goals, registering at least four goals in three of the games.
Jason Robertson scored five of the team's 12 goals, however, there wasn't a ton of scoring help after that.
Roope Hintz had a great Game 1, but managed only two assists through the final five games of the series. Meanwhile, each of Tyler Seguin, Wyatt Johnston and Mason Marchment failed to register a single point in the series, despite contributing a combined 57 goals and 122 points this season. Joe Pavelski also managed a single goal, though he did post four points overall. Then Miro Heiskanen had just three assists, after posting near point-per-game numbers this season.
It also didn't help that Jamie Benn was suspended for multiple games. Benn scored 33 goals and 78 points this year en route to his best season in half a decade. But even for much of the series when Benn did play, he wasn't much of a factor.
Meanwhile, Vegas had their top stars in Jack Eichel and Mark Stone, but a fairly deep group as well. Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Ivan Barbshev all scored at an 82-game pace of at least 45 points this season. So while Dallas had their top players, Vegas' depth did make for a fairly even matchup.
Unfortunately for Dallas, the team does really rely on their top stars for scoring. After the likes of Robertson, Hintz, Pavelski, Benn, Seguin, and Johnston, there's a pretty big drop-off in terms of secondary scoring. So when several top players aren't producing, it's going to be tough to win.
The Goaltending Battle
While the Stars weren't scoring a ton, the one thing they should've had in their back pocket was a great goaltender.
Heading into the matchup, you had to favor Jake Oettinger. After posting a .919 save percentage across 62 games this season, there was an argument that Oettinger deserved Vezina Trophy consideration. Meanwhile for the Golden Knights, Adin Hill was only called into action after Laurent Brossoit's injury.
However, Oettinger had some inconsistent performances against Vegas. He managed just an .877 save percentage in the series, with a few tough starts.
Meanwhile, Hill was rock solid. Despite the lack of playoff experience coming in, the netminder posted a .939 save percentage across the six games, with two shutouts. Vegas was actually outshot 197-174 in the series, but Hill's performance was a huge factor.
Vegas isn't necessarily a team that has elite goaltending as a key part of team identity. But for Dallas, Oettinger was a huge part of their success and they needed him to be one of their best players. Unfortunately, he couldn't get the job done and Hill was the unlikely victor in the goaltending battle.
Outmatched Blue Line
At the end of the day, an aspect of playoff success is going to come down to roster construction. When comparing the teams, defense was a pretty glaring mismatch.
Vegas' group was about as sound as they come, with an excellent top-four featuring Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore. Even on the bottom pairing, Nicolas Hague and Zach Whitecloud are perfectly capable.
But after Miro Heiskanen, Dallas lacked depth. Ryan Suter was counted on for too much, playing over 23 minutes per game in the playoffs at 38 years old. Then while Esa Lindell can have a solid impact, he's not necessarily a difference-maker for somewhat of a thin blue line. After that, the Stars had to turn to a combination of Jani Hakanpaa, Thomas Harley, Joel Hanley and Colin Miller throughout the playoffs.
Vegas' well-rounded group was capable of shutting down opponents and adding offense. However, Dallas really relied on the likes of Heiskanen, Suter and Lindell throughout the series.
So, while the teams did look fairly close on paper for the most part, the Stars needed their strengths to remain their strengths. The team's chances relied on their top forwards scoring as we know they can, plus a very solid series from Jake Oettinger. With neither factor playing out as hoped though, the Stars found themselves in a tough spot.
Getting down 3-0 was always going to be incredibly tough to overcome, and while Dallas was able to battle back to make things a bit interesting, they didn't get enough from several top players throughout the round.