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Stanley Cup Final

Hanley, Oleksiak add to defenseman scoring for Stars in Game 1 win

Help defeat Lightning in Stanley Cup Final opener

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Hanley roofs opening goal

DAL@TBL, Gm1: Hanley picks top corner to open scoring

Cup Final, Gm1: Joel Hanley snipes a pinpoint shot into the top corner to give the Stars an early 1-0 lead in Game 1

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The offense the Dallas Stars have gotten from their defensemen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs usually comes from Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg.

But Joel Hanley and Jamie Oleksiak were the defensemen who scored their first two goals in a 4-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Saturday.

Hanley's goal was his first in the NHL. Oleksiak scored his fifth goal of the postseason after scoring three in the regular season.

"That's how you win in the playoffs," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "You rely on your top-end guys to get you some offense or get you some chances, and you rely on some guys that have to step up every now and then and score some huge goals for us."

Stars defensemen have scored an NHL-high 15 goals this postseason heading into Game 2 of the best-of-7 series in Edmonton on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Heiskanen and Oleksiak have five each, Klingberg has three, and Esa Lindell and Hanley each has one.

Video: DAL@TBL, Gm1: Oleksiak roofs second-chance goal

That is not by accident. Dallas spent the first three days of its Return to Play training camp in July focusing on its defensemen getting involved in the offense.

"Whenever there's an opportunity to jump up and try to get a shot, we want to do that," Hanley said after his 54th NHL game. "You see it around the League, defensemen jumping up and trying to get shots for offense. I think that's something we've done a good job of so far."

The 29-year-old gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 5:40 into the first period. Forward Roope Hintz passed from behind the net to Hanley in the high slot, and his shot from between the circles beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy high to the blocker side.

He became the fifth defenseman since 1927 to score his first NHL goal in the Stanley Cup Final, the first since Jim Paek of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the 1991 Cup Final against the Minnesota North Stars.

"I saw Roope go behind the net and then I saw kind of an opening in the middle," Hanley said. "When Roope passed it, I don't know if I lifted my head up or not. I don't know what it looked like on camera, but I just tried to pick a corner and shoot it as hard as I could and it was lucky enough to go in."

 

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Hanley played eight games this season, his fifth, and was playing his eighth postseason game.

"Joel Hanley, just couldn't be happier for him," Bowness said. "This kid has given us a lot of good quality minutes, so I couldn't be happier for him [that] he gets a goal."

Oleksiak made it 2-1 with 7:30 remaining in the second period. Like Hanley, he jumped into the play to take a pass from forward Alexander Radulov and shot from the high slot. Vasilevskiy knocked it down with his blocker, and Oleksiak got to the rebound and lifted it over the goalie.

His five postseason goals equal the most he scored in any of his seven NHL regular seasons (five with Dallas in 2016-17, five with Dallas and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017-18). He has 18 goals in 313 regular-season games.

"Honestly, I haven't been thinking too deeply on it," the 27-year-old said. "This playoffs, we're getting the [defensemen] involved a little bit more, and the opportunities have come my way and I've been able to put a couple in. So I think it's just a product of playing kind of our system and what that affords a D-man to do. It's definitely nice to contribute in that way."

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