Stars’ Joel Kiviranta caps unlikely hat trick in OT to win series against Avalanche

Joel Kiviranta completed a hat track 7:24 into overtime to give Dallas a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday in Game 7, sending the Stars to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2008.

Kiviranta moved away from the crease just before his quick shot on a pass from Andrej Sekera from behind the net. Kiviranta was playing only his third post-season game, on the ice for the series finale with Andrew Cogliano unfit to play, after the 24-year-old forward scored once in 11 regular-season games.

“Pretty unreal. This is what you dream about when you’re a young kid,” Kiviranta said. “I played the first Game 7 of my life. I didn’t know what to expect. … Maybe their D just lost me a little bit. They didn’t know who was picking me up. I tried to find a soft spot. It was a great pass.”

It was only the seventh Game 7 hat trick in NHL history, and the first since Wayne Gretzky for the Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 conference finals.

Dallas will play Sunday night against Vancouver or Vegas, who had a Game 7 of their own Friday night at Rogers Place. There had never been an NHL Game 7 played at a neutral site before the two games.

WATCH | Kiviranta’s OT winner sends Stars to conference finals:

Joel Kiviranta became the 7th player in NHL history to record a game 7 hat trick in the Dallas Stars 5-4 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche. 1:19

The Avalanche, who also lost in Game 7 of last season’s conference semis, were trying to get to their first conference final since 2002, and forced Game 7 after being down 3-1. Third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson, a 30-year-old journeyman who had never started a playoff game before winning consecutive elimination games, but couldn’t make one more save after 31 on Friday.

Dallas, which lost in double overtime to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in the seventh game of last year’s conference semi, won its third Game 7 played against Colorado. The Stars beat the Avs in the Western Conference finals in 1999 and 2000 to make it to the Stanley Cup final. The Stars won their only title in 1999.

Alexander Radulov scored two goals for Dallas, tying it at 3 with 8:32 left. That was only a couple of minutes after Radulov came out of the penalty box for an interference penalty.

But in a series when the two teams combined for 57 goals, and were tied four times in the finale, they scored 10 seconds apart late in regulation.

Colorado had a 4-3 lead with 3:40 left in regulation after Vladislav Namestnikov scored his second goal of the game. But 10 seconds later, Kiviranta scored his second goal.

Nazeem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who played without captain Gabriel Landeskog (unfit to play) and didn’t get a point from scoring wizard Nathan MacKinnon for the first time in 15 games this post-season.

“I think our thoughts are pretty obvious. We felt like we were outplaying them in overtime and it was coming and felt good,” MacKinnon said. “Just got hemmed in. Boys got gassed and they made a nice play. It’s tough.”

Colorado’s Andre Burakovsky is knocked over by Dallas defenceman John Klingberg the during third period. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The Avs led 3-2 with 14:15 left in the second period when Stars goalie Anton Khudobin couldn’t control get control of a puck, and Kadri scored on a backhander from the left side of the net. That was Kadri’s sixth power play goal, matching Joe Sakic (1996) for the second-most in an Avalanche post-season behind Michel Goulet’s seven in 1985.

And Kadri twice came oh-so-close to scoring again in that period. He had one shot ricochet off the post and Khudobin was falling back when he extended his left arm for a glove save on another Kadri shot that looked like it was head into the net.

Dallas had an extra skater on the ice during a delayed penalty early in the second period when tying the game at 2-2. Rookie Denis Gurianov took a shot toward traffic, and it went off Kiviranta’s blade and past Hutchinson.

Andre Burakovsky, who won a Stanley Cup title with Washington in 2018 but was traded by the Capitols after last season, converted a turnover by Dallas defender Jamie Olesksiak into an unassisted goal and a 2-1 lead midway lead through the first period. Burakovsky got his fourth goal in six career Game 7s.

The Stars scored only 2 1/2 minutes into the game when Radulov jammed in a loose puck soon after Hutchinson was unable to clear it out of the zone from behind the net. But their lead lasted only 69 seconds, with Colorado getting even on Ian Cole took a shot into traffic that went off the stick of teammate Namestnikov for a 1-1 tie.

Khudobin made 40 saves.

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Johny Watshon

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