Johnston reaches the age of 21 for the Dallas Stars, giving them an opportunity to eliminate the Avs in 5 games on home turf

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Dallas Stas players talks to eachother

Before turning 21, Wyatt Johnston achieved a great deal with the Dallas Stars. He’s been part of 30 NHL playoff matches and scored four game-winning goals over two postseasons, matching a record set only by Wayne Gretzky.

“He’s truly incredible to watch,” remarked Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen. “He surprises us every time.” Johnston celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday as the Stars returned home from Colorado, leading their second-round series 3-1 in the Western Conference. They have a chance to win the series at home in Game 5 on Wednesday.

“On the plane, they announced it, he’s finally 21,” said Dallas coach Pete DeBoer upon arrival in Dallas. “Maybe he’ll grab a beer on the way home. He’s been waiting for this moment. We introduced a 19-year-old into a tough league and environment.”

Since his NHL debut at the beginning of last season, Johnston has played in every one of the Stars’ 164 regular-season games and all playoff games. He’s now their top goal scorer, tallying seven goals this postseason after scoring 32 in the regular season.

Alexander Georgiev waits for the game to resume

The Stars triumphed in both games in Colorado, coming home after a 5-1 victory in Game 4 where the young center scored the opening two goals. Johnston netted a power-play and a short-handed goal, making him one of the few players alongside Gretzky to achieve both in the same playoff game before turning 21.

On the day following Johnston’s birthday, the Stars aim to secure a series-clinching win in Game 5 at home, something they haven’t achieved since 2000, three years before his birth.

Wednesday’s game falls exactly a year after his game-winning goal in Game 7 of their second-round series against Seattle, which occurred on the day after his 20th birthday.

“It’s been quite a whirlwind couple of years,” Johnston remarked. There are no other NHL playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night. However, there will be two on Thursday night, including Game 5 between Edmonton and Vancouver in the other Western Conference semifinal series.

Facing elimination, the Avalanche are attempting to regroup without their top playoff goal scorer, Valeri Nichushkin (suspended), and potentially one of their standout defensemen, Devon Toews (illness).


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