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FIRST ROUND

Stars advance in playoffs thanks to strong goaltending, play of top line

Penalty kill, younger players key in six-game series win against Predators

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016 with a six-game win against the Nashville Predators in the best-of-7 first round.

Stars defenseman John Klingberg scored his first goal of the playoffs at 17:02 of overtime to defeat the Predators 2-1 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center on Monday.

The Stars will play the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

 

[RELATED: Full Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

Here are 5 reasons the Stars advanced:

 

1. Bishop was tremendous

The Stars scored 209 goals during the regular season, the fewest of any team to reach the playoffs, so goalie Ben Bishop's play was going to be critical. He didn't disappoint, going 4-2 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. In Game 6, he made 47 saves.

"I think obviously our best player once again is [Bishop]," Klingberg said. "He's just keeping us in the game."

Bishop picked up where he left off in the regular season, when he went 27-15-2 with a 1.98 GAA and .934 save percentage and was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

 

2. Top line connects

Each forward on the Stars' first line, Jamie Benn (one goal, five assists), Tyler Seguin (two goals, four assists) and Alexander Radulov (four goals, two assists), each had six points in the series. Their best performance was Game 5, when the three combined for seven points (three goals, four assists) in a 5-3 win at Nashville.

"Our line's all about work, it's about will," Seguin said. "Obviously we have the skill and talent there, but when we're working hard, we're happy to go up against anybody."

 

3. Great penalty kill

The Predators' power play was last in the NHL during the regular season (12.9 percent) and the Stars made sure it stayed dormant, going 15-for-15 on the penalty kill.

"When your penalty kill is good, your goaltender is good, and your players are sacrificing, and by sacrificing I mean they're eating pucks," Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said. "I don't know how many pucks that [defensemen Ben] Lovejoy, Esa [Lindell] and [Roman] Polak ate, but it was our forwards as well. They're just working together."

Video: Stars finish off Predators in six games to advance

 

4. Shutdown line does its job

The Stars' third line of Blake Comeau, Radek Faksa and Andrew Cogliano were tasked with stopping the Predators' top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, and they did well.

Forsberg (one goal, one assist), Johansen (one goal, one assist) and Arvidsson (zero points) combined for four points. Those three players combined for 162 points (76 goals, 86 assists) during the regular season.

For good measure, Faksa assisted on Comeau's goal, his first of the playoffs, at 5:20 of the second period in Game 6.

 

5. Kids are all right

The Stars' younger players were big parts of why they advanced.

Defenseman Miro Heiskanen had a goal and an assist in Game 1 and the 19-year-old showed poise throughout the series. Forward Jason Dickinson, 23, had two goals in Game 5. Forward Roope Hintz, 22, had three points (two goals, one assist) in six games.

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