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Nugent-Hopkins scores 2 power-play goals and Oilers beat Stars 3-1 to move a win away from Cup final

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Edmonton Oilers went into Game 5 of the Western Conference Final determined to score if they got a power-play chance.

They did twice, and quickly both times, in a 3-1 win over the top-seeded Dallas Stars to take a 3-2 series lead and get within one victory of going to the Stanley Cup Final.

“We’ve been pushing and they obviously don’t take a lot of penalties. You don’t have three, four or five opportunities a game to find your rhythm,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “So going into tonight, we wanted to make sure that if we only got one, we were going to make it count.”

There hadn’t been a power-play goal by either team in this series until Nugent-Hopkins scored on a rebound only 18 seconds after a penalty in the first period, only their seventh chance against Dallas. That was 2 seconds longer than it took for him to score with a man advantage again after a penalty just a minute into the second period.

“If you’re going to draw up a road game, that’s much what you want to do,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “Come out, get two power-play goals early in the game, get the lead and then defend well all night.”

Stuart Skinner stopped 19 shots for the Oilers, and Philip Broberg scored from just inside the blue line. Evan Bouchard assisted on both of the power-play goals, while captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a helper on one of them.

“I thought right from start to finish we were dialed in,” McDavid said. “Everything. Details, a lot of things.”

Game 6 is Sunday night in Edmonton. With a win at home, the Oilers would advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2006. They were 5-12-1 in November and had already made a coaching change

The Stars jumped ahead 2-0 in the first 5:29 of Game 4 at Edmonton, and looked as though they were ready to take a stranglehold on the series. Instead, they didn’t have another goal for nearly 109 minutes stretched over six periods for their longest scoring drought of the postseason.

“We’ve been a bit disjointed offensively this whole series,” Stars center Matt Duchene said. “So hopefully we can find it here next game.”

If not, their season will end in Game 6 of the West final for the second year in a row.

Edmonton scored eight consecutive goals, getting even by the end of the first period Wednesday night, part of five unanswered goals in a 5-2 victory before going ahead 3-0 on Friday. The Stars, now 4-6 at home this postseason, finally got another puck in the net when Wyatt Johnston scored with 5:51 left in the game.

Jake Oettinger had 23 saves for the Stars.

Dallas had only six shots on goal halfway through the game, but Skinner already had some quality stops by then — and more after that, including on the Stars’ only power play late in the second period.

“Stu was just solid. He was square, he was quick,” coach Kris Knoblauch said. “We win 3-1 tonight, and I think that’s a little skewed. I don’t think we were that much better tonight. I think just the fact that Stu had so many big saves gave us a little bit of a cushion and made it look easier than it was for our team.”

Skinner knocked down a one-timer chance by the 21-year-old Johnston only seconds after rejecting Miro Heiskanen during that power play. Then early in the third, Johnston was denied on an in-close shot before Duchene’s backhander.

Oettinger really had no chance on Nugent-Hopkins’ first goal, when he scored on a rebound after Bouchard’s shot was blocked by Chris Tanev, the defenseman who had been questionable for the game after taking a shot off his right foot in the second period of the last game. The puck went right to Nugent-Hopkins on the opposite side of the goalie.

Heiskanen got a delay of game penalty only 50 seconds into the second after knocking the puck over the glass into the stands. Edmonton needed only 16 seconds to score, with Draisaitl feeding Nugent-Hopkins for a 30-foot snap shot.

Four minutes later, Evander Kane won a draw against Joe Pavelski in the circle to the right of the net, then Adam Henrique got the puck to Broberg for a long shot.

Pavelski, who played in his 200th career playoff game, had a shoulder-to-shoulder collision in the first period with fellow 39-year-old skater Corey Perry, who with 208 playoff games is the only other active player with at least 200. Perry left and went to the locker room, but was back on the ice in the second period.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press