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First Round

Hintz making playoff impact for Stars entering Game 5 against Predators

Rookie forward scored twice in series-tying win

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Roope Hintz has learned something quite valuable the past two seasons, be it with the Dallas Stars or in the American Hockey League.

"Don't be scared out there," the Stars' rookie forward said. "You get more used to [the game], and when you get confident, it helps you more."

The 22-year-old should have plenty of confidence heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS). He scored his first two Stanley Cup Playoff goals in a 5-1 victory in Game 4 and is a big reason the best-of-7 series is tied 2-2. 

 

[RELATED: Predators aim to rebound against Stars in Game 5 | Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Hintz, selected by Dallas in the second round (No. 49) of the 2015 NHL Draft, has impressed at second-line center. He scored on the power play Wednesday to give the Stars a 1-0 lead at 3:42 of the first period, then scored at even strength to make it 5-0 at 10:09 of the third period.

"I think we all see how good of a player he is and how good he can be," defenseman John Klingberg said. "It's pretty exciting. His first year was really good, and I think he's getting more comfortable in the room, too."

Hintz had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 58 games this season for the Stars. He also had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 21 games with Texas of the AHL. 

Hintz got his first pro playoff experience last season, scoring 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 22 games in the Calder Cup Playoffs for Texas, which lost to Toronto in seven games in the Calder Cup Finals. He said he approaches the Stanley Cup Playoffs the same way he did the AHL postseason.

"The mental game's the same," he said. "Just different players."

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm4: Hintz opens scoring with PPG

Dallas coach Jim Montgomery credited Texas coach Derek Laxdal and his staff for Hintz's progress.

"Every time Roope went down [to Texas], he came back a better player," Montgomery said. "The last time he came up, he took his game to another level. You didn't see it in the scoring right away, but he was initiating plays, driving the play for us. We thought it was a matter of time before he broke through, and he did."

Hintz (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) is a strong skater who could shoot and pass like an NHL player even in the AHL. Laxdal said the forward has addressed what was missing in his game when he joined Texas last season.

"Now you're starting to see him engage in battles, win battles, and that was the part of his game that was lacking," Laxdal said. "And it wasn't because didn't want to do it, it was just being comfortable with it. He got comfortable with it at the AHL level, then he got back up to Dallas [on Jan. 29] and got more comfortable with it at the NHL level."

Hintz, who began the season with Dallas and was called up from the AHL four times, had five points (two goals, three assists) in his first 25 NHL games this season. After the Jan. 29 call-up, he had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in his final 33 games of the regular season.

"It was like the Dallas Stars picked up a great trade piece at the [NHL Trade] Deadline, because he stepped right in," Laxdal said. "If you look at the upside of him, they're looking for the second-line center, and he sure stepped in and is doing the job."

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm4: Hintz pots second goal of game

While Hintz develops, he's making an impact in the playoffs. His teammates say he is just getting started. 

"He's going to be a fantastic player," goalie Ben Bishop said. "He's got an unbelievable skill set: It's hard-to-find speed and the shot he has, and he has both. It's just a matter of him doing it every single night. You can see glimpses of it, and when he's on, he's pretty impressive." 

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