Roope Hintz led the NHL in playoff scoring when the Stars were eliminated last year, tallying 24 points in 19 games.

Through the first eight games of this year’s run, he had just one empty-net goal on his line.

That ended on Thursday as Hintz tallied a goal and three assists in the Stars’ 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. That’s a great sign as the 1-1 series moves to Denver for Game 3 on Saturday.

“The right guys scored tonight,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “Those guys want to be difference-makers, and they’re used to being difference-makers. It’s critical that those guys started to score. Roope looked like Roope tonight. Miro Heiskanen had a couple of big goals and Tyler Seguin with a goal, so the right guys got on the board for us.”

Pete DeBoer speaks to the media after Game 2

The Stars have succeeded this season because of the balance. They had a franchise record eight 20-goal scorers, and balanced the offense not only within games, but at different times of the season. If one line was cold, the next picked it up. In a challenging first round series with Vegas, scoring was limited on both sides, and you could see it wearing on some of the better players.

Hintz was front and center. The talented center is big (6-3, 212), fast, and one of the most skilled players on the team. He has led the top line with Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski for the past three seasons, and had a breakout performance with 10 goals and 14 assists in 19 games last playoffs.

So in the first year of an eight-year contract with a cap hit $8.45 million, the expectations were high again this postseason. But Hintz looked overwhelmed at times and simply couldn’t find a way to produce through the First Round. He made some good plays defensively in helping Dallas beat Vegas in seven games, but just couldn’t get going offensively.

And it wore on him a bit.

“You try to cheer him up and at the same time get him to forget what’s happened in the past,” said teammate Esa Lindell. “He demands a lot from himself, so [when he’s in a slump] he’s thinking about it and wants to change it.”

Hintz said after the four-point game that he felt good.

“It was nice to get on the board and help the team get the win,” Hintz said. “You can’t control the past, so let’s focus on the future.”

Roope Hintz speaks to the media after Game 2

And he said he learned some things during the slump.

“Of course, it’s hard if it’s not going your way,” Hintz said. “But you can’t think that too much, so you’ve got to just stay in there and grind away.”

Hintz isn’t alone. Seguin scored his first goal of the playoffs on a shorthanded rush, Matt Duchene is getting better with creating opportunities, and Logan Stankoven continues to get chance after chance while in the midst of a 21-game goalless streak. Bottom line, the Stars need their balance and they need their best players to score.

“There is responsibility on our forward group to be more of a difference-maker in this series and take some pressure off of our D,” DeBoer said before Game 2. “This isn’t on Roope Hintz. Our depth has to show up in this series.”

When Hintz was part of that depth Thursday, the Stars could breathe a sigh of relief. And he showed that he does the little things well, too. As the Stars were trying to nurse home a one-goal lead in the final minute, Hintz bumped a puck back to Lindell, and the veteran defenseman was able to lift a puck 180 feet into an empty net for the clincher.

“It was a great play,” DeBoer said. “I loved the composure of Roope to share the puck with him and not panic, and then for Esa to finish it off.”

That’s the kind of sign that maybe “Roope is Roope” again.

“He was great tonight, for sure,” Heiskanen said. “He’s been working hard and playing a pretty good defensive game, but he got four points tonight and I think that’s great for him and his confidence.”

Miro Heiskanen speaks to the media after Game 2

Key Numbers

Stars goalie Jake Oettinger has a 1.51 GAA and .948 save percentage in three road playoff games this year. He has a 2.61 GAA and .891 save percentage in six home playoff games. Oettinger had a .912 road save percentage during the regular season and was .898 at home.

38.1 percent
Colorado ranks second in the playoffs with a power play success rate of 38.1 percent. Dallas ranks fourth at 30.4 percent.

Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon had 89 points (34 goals, 55 assists) in 41 home games this season, leading all home scorers in the NHL.

He Said It

“Benner has been outstanding this playoffs. I thought against Vegas, he did it and he did it smart, he did it at the right time and he did it clean. His presence physically is having an impact for us in a real positive way.”

- Stars coach Pete DeBoer when asked about Jamie Benn’s big hit on Devon Toews, and Benn’s ability to ride the line of physicality after getting a two-game suspension in the 2023 playoffs

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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