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Stars' Klingberg finding offensive game again

Defenseman came on late in first-round series against Wild, hopes to continue momentum against Blues

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Defenseman John Klingberg was one of three players to make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut for the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild, a series the Stars won 4-2.

But Klingberg certainly didn't look like a playoff newcomer.

"I think from you guys [the media], there were [jitters], but not [from me]," Klingberg said. "I've played playoff games before back home in Sweden and [in] a couple of World Championships too. We had a good start [to the series, going up 2-0] and that helped a lot too. I was ready for it. Obviously, we knew we were going to the playoffs [for some time now], I was just trying to be as prepared as possible."

For most of this season, Klingberg, fifth among NHL defensemen with 58 points, skated alongside veteran Alex Goligoski, Dallas' longest-tenured defenseman.

In the first round, Goligoski saw the same Klingberg that he played with all season.

Video: DAL@MIN, Gm6: Klingberg tallies on two-man advantage

"Yeah, I thought he looked real comfortable. I don't think he played any different than he normally does," Goligoski said. "He was as calm as ever [with the puck]. I thought he looked great."

Offensively, Klingberg didn't have a point in the first four games of the series against the Wild. However, he had two assists in Game 5, a 5-4 overtime loss at American Airlines Center, and had a goal in a 5-4 victory to clinch the series in Game 6 at XCel Energy Center on Sunday.

With Klingberg being a puck-moving defenseman who created plenty of offense this season, he was expected to deliver similar production in the postseason.

In Games 5 and 6 he did just that to finish the series with three points, but the young defenseman has never judged his performances solely off his offensive production.

"I've been playing pretty good the whole series, but obviously you guys [the media] think it's better when you score points," Klingberg said. "I think both me and [Goligoski] have been creating. Obviously there's been some tough breaks on goals against, but I think we've been creating."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was pleased with Klingberg's overall performance against the Wild, but expects him to raise his game even higher in the second round.

"I liked his play," Ruff said. "I know he's going to have to be better this round, but he's got a series under his belt. There's some situations inside a few of those games that he needed to learn from. This series, there'll be learning moments where [he'll benefit from] having seen that but he'll get to see it again."

Klingberg is happy to have his first playoff series under his belt, but now looks to the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues, which will begin Friday in Dallas (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

"It's going to be a different series with St. Louis," Klingberg said. "They're going to be a lot more physical. I think we're probably even going to have fewer scoring chances. Minnesota is a really good defensive team, I think St. Louis is even better. They have a goalie who is playing really well now too. It's going to be a fun series for sure."

The Blues won four of five games against the Stars this season, but three of those victories came in overtime or a shootout.

And given how little separates these Central Division rivals, Klingberg is ready for a long and hard-fought series.

"I think playing with a lot of pace and a lot of confidence is going to help both teams here. I won't be surprised if this series goes to Game 7," Klingberg said.

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