The hockey gods, it turns out, can actually be quite just.

You just have to be patient.

The Stars on Friday had what appeared to be an overtime game-winning goal by Mason Marchment disallowed because officials determined that Matt Duchene was interfering with the goalie. It appeared to be a controversial decision, one that could have really sidetracked a Dallas team who might have felt the call was wrong.

But, about an hour later, Duchene scored the game-winner in the second overtime, earning a 2-1 win and clinching the best-of-seven series in six games for the Stars. Dallas now moves on to play the winner of Vancouver-Edmonton in the Western Conference Final.

“It’s hockey,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It doesn’t always go your way, but we stuck with it as a group and it’s pretty nice for Dutchy to get that one.”

Jamie Benn talks about the game winner by Duchene

It’s nice for the Stars, as well. They get some time off while waiting for Edmonton and Vancouver to sort out their series. Dallas had to go to seven games to beat Vegas in the first round and really didn’t want to play Game 7 in Dallas on Sunday. So pushing to get the series over on Friday was huge.

“I think it's actually our 13th game every other day,” said Stars coach Pete DeBoer of the grueling schedule. “You get both previous Stanley Cup champions [in Vegas and Colorado]. What a gauntlet. Colorado was a more rested team after their first round. I just couldn't be prouder of our group. I thought everybody dug deep, and our depth did carry us through. That gave us the spark because we've got a mix of older and younger guys, but they were just fantastic. Just hard to believe with a gauntlet like that, that you're only halfway there. But we're going to enjoy and need the time off here, and get ready for the next round.”

Pete DeBoer on advancing to WCF finals and win @ COL

The Stars’ energy and depth was apparent in the overtime. Colorado controlled significant patches of the game, but the Stars had an 11-4 advantage on shots on goal in the first overtime, and that helped build the positive mojo. That was important when the Marchment goal was called off in the ice, and then supported by the replay crew. Duchene was setting a screen in front of the net and was pushed into Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Replays showed Duchene’s skates were not in the paint, but Marchment said officials believed Duchene’s posterior interfered.

“I think, honestly, they didn't want to make it a deciding goal,” Marchment said. “I get it, but I think there's got to be some sort of standard because you can't push a guy into your own goalie and it be goaltender interference. There's just got to be some sort of standard, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. We got the job done. It's awesome.”

In fact, it might be even more awesome than just winning in the first overtime. The Stars as a team had to go into the dressing room after that call and make sense of it. They had to refocus, they had to tighten up as a group, and they had to continue to make big plays. That was big for Jake Oettinger, who stopped 29 of 30 shots. It was big for Joe Pavelski, who continues to look good at age 39. And it was great for Duchene, who has struggled at times down the stretch and in the playoffs.

“He's a great guy and very much a team guy and you know, for him to get one against his old team, means the world to him,” Marchment said of Duchene, who was drafted by Colorado and played nine seasons for the Avalanche. “We love to see it as teammates.”

Colorado took a 1-0 lead on a Mikko Rantanen power play goal in the second period. Duchene took the penalty that led to that score. Then, DeBoer started juggling his lines, and the trio of Tyler Seguin, Benn and Evgenii Dadonov tied the game early in the third period. Seguin made a nice pass up the left wing, and Dadonov converted it to a centering pass to Benn, who scored his third goal of the playoffs.

That set up overtime, and both teams dug in and played feisty hockey that was both grinding and opportunistic. Both Georgiev and Oettinger made big saves, and after the official’s decision in the first overtime, things just kept pushing forward.

On the game-winning goal, Duchene carried the puck deep and then flipped it to the front of the net. There, Marchment and Pavelski battled for position, and Pavelski flipped the puck out to Duchene, who was waiting by the side of the net. Duchene lifted in his second goal of the playoffs, and Dallas had a huge win and a lot of great memories.

“It’s a pretty resilient group,” Pavelski said. “We get into the intermission, we're talking about 'we're going to win this game because we're the better team. It doesn't matter the calls right now, we're going to win.’ We were the better team tonight, especially the second half. We felt like we had legs. We were rolling four lines. Everyone was contributing, playing a role and getting time, and you could feel it out there, this group. And we believed it.”

Joe Pavelski talks about the resilience of this team

That’s been a theme throughout the season. Dallas has had to overcome hardship at different times, and has built a strong chemistry. The theme of the year is “A little less, for a lot more,” meaning each individual takes a smaller role in order to share the load. The result is the Stars have had the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season and now are 5-1 on the road in the playoffs.

"I’m just elated,” Marchment said. “It was a hard-fought series. They’re a hell of team, obviously. They were really good the last two games and they pushed us hard.”

Now, the Stars hope to build from that.

"I feel like we're deeper than last year, deeper than when we went back to the finals," Benn said. "Now it's up to us to do something with it."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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