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Stars impressed, not surprised by Heiskanen's Game 1 against Predators

Rookie defenseman's goal, assist in NHL playoff debut boost Dallas to win

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Heiskanen scores in playoff debut

DAL@NSH, Gm1: Heiskanen's shot deflects in for PPG

R1, Gm1: Miro Heiskanen snaps a wrister from the point that deflects in off a defender on the power play, tying the score in the 2nd

  • 01:06 •

NASHVILLE -- Miro Heiskanen didn't consider his first game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs something to treat differently than one in the regular season.

"Pretty similar," the Dallas Stars rookie defenseman said. "I just play my game, do my thing, and enjoy it."

Heiskanen had to enjoy scoring a goal and getting an assist on another in a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Nashville on Saturday (6 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVAS2, FS-TN, FS-SW).

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

The Stars are no longer surprised by Heiskanen's cool, calm demeanor. His strong performance in Game 1 was just one more in an impressive rookie season. Heiskanen had 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 82 games and could be among the finalists for the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL.

Even Stars coach Jim Montgomery admitted he's run out of superlatives to describe Heiskanen.

"There isn't any," Montgomery said. "Like I've said all year, we're glad we have him."

Video: DAL@NSH, Gm1: Heiskanen's second puts Stars ahead

Heiskanen's goal came unassisted on the power play, his shot deflecting off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's knee to tie the game 1-1 at 12:37 of the second period. He initially was credited with a second goal when his shot off a pass from defenseman John Klingberg gave the Stars a 2-1 lead 6:10 into the third period, but a scoring change Thursday gave the goal to Alexander Radulov, with Heiskanen getting the primary assist.

Goalie Ben Bishop, who made 30 saves for the win, said Heiskanen looked like he was playing in his 100th NHL playoff game, not his first.

"He plays like he's been in the League for 10 years," Bishop said. "Since the first game of the season, he's gotten better, but he's been that good all year. He's a big part of this team, and he does a lot of good things for us, night in and night out. He's not a rah-rah guy. He just puts his head down and his boots on and goes to work. That's what the playoffs are about: Some guys who aren't recognized in the regular season get a little bit more press, and he's definitely deserving of it."

Video: Stars win 3-2 as Predators' power play struggles

Heiskanen was one of two teenage defensemen who played the full NHL season; 18-year-old Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was the other. But Heiskanen didn't look like a young, inexperienced player in the regular season, and he doesn't look like one now.

"I guess I would say, I'm not surprised anymore, but it's truly impressive," Bishop said. "He just goes about his business quietly and efficiently, and like I said before, this guy's going to be a star in this league for a long time."

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