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First Round

Stars' penalty-killing provides plus against Predators in playoffs

Have yet to surrender power-play goal heading into Game 5

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars can look to their penalty-killing unit as one of their biggest positives against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round.

The Stars are 10-for-10 on their penalty kill in four games, including 2-for-2 in their 5-1 win against the Predators in Game 4 at Dallas on Wednesday.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 at Nashville on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Part of the Stars' success on the penalty kill can be attributed to keeping their time on it to a minimum.

"Discipline is really important," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Thursday. "When you start to get four or five penalty kills, the power play scores. We've been good about not getting in the box very much, and when we are penalty killing, all four guys are together."

Nashville's penalty kill was 12-for-13 in Games 1 through 3 but gave up three power-play goals on the way to falling behind 4-0 in the first period of Game 4.

In addition to discipline, Montgomery said goalie Ben Bishop's communication with assistant Rick Bowness and goalie coach Jeff Reese is important to penalty-kill success. Bishop and Bowness worked together with Tampa Bay from 2013-17.

"Bowness has done a fantastic job," Montgomery said. "Everyone knows what we want to give up, because when you're in zone they have possession. They have five, you have four, you're going to have to give up something. And with the communication between coach Bowness, the penalty killers, coach Reese and Bishop, everyone's on the same page. It's easier for Bishop and easier for the penalty killers to know exactly who's responsible for what in every situation."

Forward Blake Comeau and defenseman Esa Lindell have been two of the Stars' top penalty killers. Comeau, who signed a three-year contract with the Stars on July 1, has played 10:26 on the penalty kill in four games. Lindell has played 16:12 on it this postseason.

"I think when he goes on the power play, it's fun time for him. But the penalty kill is serious time," Montgomery said of Lindell. "There are a lot of times when we want him to change and he looks over to the bench like, 'Why?' He wants to be out there the entire two minutes."

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