EDMONTON, Alberta — Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry don’t want to leave the bubble just yet.
Pavelski tied it with 6:45 left in the regulation, laid out to block a shot in the first overtime and Perry’s second goal of the game came in double OT to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay and force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final.
“Get one, keep going,” Perry said. “We start building here and I think we’re starting to do something special.”
Anton Khudobin made 39 saves, and Perry prolonged the series by scoring 9:23 into the second OT. It was a manner of redemption for the Stars a night after they lost in OT on a questionable penalty call when Tampa Bay scored on the ensuing power play. Game 6 is Monday night.
The 36-year-old Pavelski and 35-year-old Perry have combined for the last six Stars goals. So much for hockey being a young man’s game.
“With the way they’re playing, I don’t know if you can call them old,” Stars center Tyler Seguin said.
The Stars stayed alive despite going down to five defensemen for half of regulation when Andrej Sekera was injured blocking a shot midway through the first. Sekera returned for the third, a gutty performance that may have saved a team that looked to be running on fumes.
Dallas might have to dip even further into its already depleted depth in Game 6 if Sekera’s injury is severe enough to add him to the already long list of unavailable players. Forward Roope Hintz was the most recent to join that group when he was injured crashing into the boards Friday night.
The Stars didn’t have much time to regroup after that difficult loss with the first back to back in the final since 2009 and just the second since the mid-1950s. Instead of the fatigue wearing them down, they were able to respond in a big way against a healthier opponent.
“They’re a good team,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “They fought back.”
Pavelski led the way. In the final for the second time in his career after losing in 2016 with San Jose, he followed his two-goal performance in Game 5 with a season saver 24 hours later by scoring on a rare juicy rebound allowed by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The goal tied Pavelski with Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point for the most goals this postseason with 13. It was the 61st of his playoff career, the most among American players.
Asked Friday night about tying that record, Pavelski deadpanned: “Keep it. Next question.” Thanks to another strong performance from him and Perry, there will be plenty more questions going into Game 6 — including how tired the players are in this grueling bubble-only postseason.
“We’ll recover,” Pavelski said. “We’ve played a lot of hockey the last 24 hours, and we’re having fun. We’re not ready to go home quite yet.”
Tampa Bay blew a 2-1 third-period lead and lost for just the third time in one-goal games this postseason. The Lightning must now figure out how to contain a suddenly dangerous Dallas top line led by Pavelski, along with Perry.
Another quesiton is the health of Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who was slow to get up after a big hit in the first OT. That was around the same time Pavelski blocked a point-blank shot by Point to keep the game going.
Perry finished it by putting a rebound home for his second of the game
NOTES: Khudobin became the fifth goaltender since 1956 to make 700-plus saves in a single postseason. ... Justin Dowling made his NHL playoff debut replacing injured Dallas forward Roope Hintz. ... Tampa Bay again played without injured captain Steven Stamkos
Monday night will mark just the second Game 6 the Lightning play in the playoffs after finishing their first two series out in five each.