No U.S.-born player has scored more playoff goals than Joe Pavelski. No player has put more pucks in the net during a single postseason this late in his career.
That may not be enough for Pavelski and the Dallas Stars, who are in a deep, deep hole in the Stanley Cup Final.
Pavelski scored twice, including the tying goal midway through the third period, but the Stars lost 5-4 when Tampa Bay scored on a power play 6:34 into overtime of Game 4 on Friday night inside the NHL bubble in Edmonton. The Lightning have a 3-1 series lead.
Tampa Bay’s third power-play goal of the game was set up after a disputable tripping penalty called against Stars captain Jamie Benn.
“I disagree with the call, but it’s out of our control. Just move on,” Stars defenseman John Klingberg said.
The Stars, who have given up six power-play goals in three consecutive losses since winning the series opener, didn’t have too much time to fret over that call or the loss. Game 5 was set to start only 21 hours later in the first back-to-back in a final since 2009.
“It’s two guys going for a loose puck. That’s a hockey play, that’s what I saw,” interim head coach Rick Bowness said, adding he had watched the replay a couple of times. “They’re hooking us and we’re fighting through the hook.”
Overtime began with a 4-on-4 after both teams had penalties with 29 seconds left in regulation, and the Stars called timeout after a holding penalty against Tampa Bay gave them a 4-on-3 advantage for 66 seconds. They got only one shot on goal in that span.
“It’s a good opportunity in overtime. We’ll take that every chance we get,” Pavelski said. “You’d like to capitalize. We’ve done it in the past in this run, and failed to do so tonight.”
Pavelski has 60 career postseason goals, matching Joe Mullen for the most by a U.S.-born player. That is tied for 32nd overall on the all-time list, and not quite halfway to Wayne Gretzky’s record 122.
When he scored in the first period to give the Stars a 2-0 lead, Pavelski broke a tie for second-place among American skaters. He had been tied at 58 with Mike Modano, who was on the Stars’ only Stanley Cup championship team in 1999.
“Keep it. Next question,” Pavelski said when asked about the record.
After the first 13 seasons of his career with the San Jose Sharks, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final four years ago as their captain, Pavelski signed a three-year contract with Dallas in free agency last summer. Wanting another chance to win a championship, his final decision came down to the Stars or the Lightning.
Pavelski has 12 goals inside the bubble, the most ever in a single postseason by a player 36 or older. He had 14 goals in 67 regular-season games for the Stars.
Tyler Seguin, who had two assists and was in front of the goal when Pavelski’s turnaround shot in the third period ricocheted off the goalie and a defender, said the Stars were fortunate to have a quick turnaround.
“I believe in this team, I believe in the boys. I know we’ve got another level,” Seguin said.
“We’ll bounce back. I have full faith in our hockey club. It’s an unfortunate way to lose that game the way we battled back,” Bowness said. “We’re going to play tomorrow like we did tonight.”