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Kiviranta emerges as unlikely Game 7 hero for Stars

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Joel Kiviranta #25 of the Dallas Stars celebrates with Jamie Oleksiak #2, Andrej Sekera #5 and Blake Comeau #15 as goaltender Michael Hutchinson #35 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on after Kiviranta scored the game-winning goal in the first overtime period of Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff between the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place on September 04, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. The Stars defeated the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime to win the best of seven game series 4-3. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Joel Kiviranta #25 of the Dallas Stars celebrates with Jamie Oleksiak #2, Andrej Sekera #5 and Blake Comeau #15 as goaltender Michael Hutchinson #35 of the Colorado Avalanche looks on after Kiviranta scored the game-winning goal in the first overtime period of Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff between the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place on September 04, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. The Stars defeated the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime to win the best of seven game series 4-3. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Dallas Stars took a thrilling Game 7 to send the Avalanche home. (Getty)

It’s OK to admit it if you hadn’t heard Joel Kiviranta’s name prior to this — because he’s earned your attention, now.

In just his third game inside the bubble, and only his 14th at the NHL level in total, Kiviranta has etched his name in hockey history, having completed a hat trick in overtime of Game 7 for the Dallas Stars in their second-round triumph over the mighty Colorado Avalanche.

the Finnish call of Kiviranta’s OT winner is so iconic pic.twitter.com/bDpUGKDxEM

— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) September 4, 2020

Kiviranta is the first rookie in NHL history to strike three times in a seventh game, and the first to complete the feat since Wayne Gretzky did it 27 years ago.

Yes, that Wayne Gretzky.

While an effective scorer in the minors, Kiviranta, undrafted and now 25 years old, had only one goal and two total points in his previous NHL appearances combined before having his moment in Game 7. He scored two game-tying markers in one of the most entertaining games of this unprecedented hockey summer before sliding into a soft spot in the coverage after just a little less than seven-and-a-half minutes had elapsed in the bonus frame, and winning it with a snap-shot over the shoulder of Michael Hutchinson.

While he is most certainly the toast of Dallas at the moment, it hasn’t gotten to his head just yet.

You’ve got to love Kiviranta telling @GenePrincipe that he hopes he gets to play another game in the bubble. https://t.co/M26t4y6Nny

— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 4, 2020

This unlikely story is only reinforced by the circumstances that surrounded Kiviranta’s insertion into the lineup in the first place.

It was a suspected injury to one the NHL’s noted ironmen, Andrew Cogliano, which opened the door for the undrafted winger to enter the lineup versus the Avalanche.

Good thing.

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