“The House always wins” is a saying millions of tourists are subject to in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Dallas Stars completed a task only a few accomplished when traveling to the desert oasis. Desperation is now behind them as they travel to Vegas and take the House for Games 3 and 4. The middle point of this First Round series is over, and Act 3 begins Wednesday night.

Games 3 and 4 became the pinnacle of resilience and perseverance of this particular brand of Stars hockey. Morale in the tank emptied after the first two losses at home, but the Stars pulled the reverse card. Elation follows the Stars back home as this series becomes a best-of-3.

There is a lot to unpack from two thrilling victories on effectively must-win games.

Game 3

Going down 0-2 in a playoff series feels like the end of the season, but it isn’t. Worries turned to celebration as the Stars went up 2-0 in Game 3. The wheels soon detached from the wagon as Vegas clawed back to even up the game before the 3rd period. Pulses pumped as no goals ended up in the net after an eventful 3rd period. Game 3 went past 60 minutes, even though it shouldn’t have. Stats on paper showed the Stars dominated all game long but Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson held the line.

The Stars recorded the most shots in a single period this postseason, with 18 in the 1st. Peppering the net turned from frustration to sounding the victory music. Wyatt Johnston is the latest overtime hero, as one shot on goal brought the Stars back into the series.

Game 4

Avoiding disaster set the tide for Game 4. An option of going down 1-3 in the series still loomed as an outcome. Vegas scored first, followed by a Stars answer. Vegas scored next, and the wheel kept spinning. Ty Dellandrea bounced a puck into the net on a heavy deflection to give the Stars a lead. An empty net goal salted the game away for the Stars to even up the series. Beating Vegas is a difficult task and the Stars have done just that.

Now, the tides turn back in the Stars’ favor with even more critical games approaching.

Game 5

Game 5 is on Wednesday in Dallas. It is the most critical game of the series so far. The last non-elimination game will secure a pivotal 3-2 series lead for two teams looking to advance to Round Two. These two teams are more than just a #1 vs. #8 matchup. The Stars are the team that Vegas has seen most in their playoff history. Both teams scored 11 goals in this series. It’s there for the taking, but the Stars have the advantage.

The easy task is over. The levels of hockey are increasing in this series, which can go the distance. This is the only first-round series where both teams are at 2-2. Every game becomes increasingly more important, with the stakes getting higher.

Victory is never guaranteed, with both teams having to battle over the next 2-3 games.

PHOTO: Dallas Stars/X

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