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First Round

Grimaldi stepping up for Predators in playoffs

Fun-loving forward providing depth scoring against Stars heading into Game 4

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Rocco Grimaldi hopes to continue making the most of his Stanley Cup Playoff opportunity with the Nashville Predators when they face the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at American Airlines Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVAS2, FS-SW, FS-TN).

The 26-year-old forward, who got his chance to play when forward Brian Boyle became ill prior to Game 2, has scored a goal in each of the past two games; his second opened the scoring in the Predators' 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Monday.

Nashville leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Grimaldi scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal in the second period of the Predators' 2-1 overtime win against the Stars on Saturday. 

Boyle is week to week following an appendix procedure, but Grimaldi continues to earn playing time with his performances.

"His work ethic, speed and way he plays the game, it'd be hard for a coach not to put him in the lineup and I think that's the position he put himself in," Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "He's been a great story for the team and for himself throughout the season."

Stars center Jason Spezza said the 5-foot-6 Grimaldi is "a little guy that's got a big engine. He's making plays out there. You can tell he's playing with a lot of confidence. He's a guy that, I think, has a strong belief in himself."

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm3: Grimaldi beats Bishop to open scoring

For Grimaldi, who missed the final six regular-season games and Game 1 of the first round with an upper-body injury, returning to the lineup "meant the world."

"I've talked this year about how I feel every game could be your last game," Grimaldi said. "You never know, right? So I'm fighting for my life, so to speak. It's been such a long journey for me to get here that every game means the world to me."

Grimaldi, selected in the second round (No. 33) by the Florida Panthers in the 2011 NHL Draft, had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 37 games over four seasons with the Panthers and Colorado Avalanche from 2014-18. He spent most of the past two seasons with San Antonio of the American Hockey League, where he had 86 points (46 goals, 40 assists) in 121 games.

On July 1, 2018, Grimaldi signed a one-year contract with the Predators and got more playing time at the NHL level. He scored 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in an NHL career-high 53 games this season.

"He probably wasn't one of the guys they had picked to be on the roster," Hamhuis said. "But he fought his way through training camp and wouldn't go away."

Grimaldi had fun playing postseason hockey and naming his sticks, something he started playing in San Antonio. He scored his goal in Game 2 with a stick he named "Frankie." He said he selected the name randomly, but after the game Grimaldi's father reminded him that his grandfather, Frankie, died three years to the date of Grimaldi's goal.

"It's really random how things came together and special to score with his name on my stick," said Grimaldi, who scored in Game 3 with a stick named "Emerson."

Grimaldi has brought the depth scoring the Predators need in the playoffs. IT has been quite a road to get here, but Grimaldi is making the most of his opportunity.

"I think I've approached every game the same," Grimaldi said. "I'm going to bring speed, energy. That's what I pride myself on, my speed and my work ethic. Scoring is huge. I've scored just about every level I've been at, so I know I can do that. I know that's not my role, but it's great to chip in."

NHL.com correspondent Jeff Miller contributed to this report

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