DALLAS – With a chance to clinch a playoff series at home for the first time in 11 years, the Dallas Stars needed overtime again. They didn’t need quite as many this time, and won’t have to go back to Music City.
John Klingberg scored from the left circle 17:02 into overtime after a cross-ice pass from Alexander Radulov, and the Stars beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 to wrap up their first-round Western Conference playoff series in six games.
“We wanted to close it out today and don’t have to deal with going back there,” said Klingberg, whose first goal of the playoffs came after five assists in the series. “We treated it like a Game 7.”
The last time the Stars clinched a playoff series on home ice was in 2008, when they needed four overtimes for a 2-1 win over San Jose in a second-round series.
“To do it in overtime in that fashion, what an exciting time for our fans,” Dallas captain Jamie Benn said. “They were loud and brought a lot of extra energy for us in overtime.”
The Stars, with rookie coach Jim Montgomery, won three consecutive games to close out the Predators. Dallas will play St. Louis in the second round of the playoffs, just like its previous postseason appearance three years ago. The Blues, who have home-ice advantage this time, won that 2016 series with a Game 7 win in Dallas.
Ben Bishop, Vezina Trophy finalist, had a playoff career-high 47 saves for the Stars.
“Obviously our best player once again is Bish. He’s just keeping us in the game,” Klingberg said.
“We slowly, second period, third period and overtime got better and better,” Montgomery said. “Obviously our best player was Bish. He was incredible.”
Pekka Rinne, who won the Vezina Trophy last year as the NHL’s top goalie, also set a career best by stopping 49 shots in his 89th career playoff game. That included an impressive pad save on Benn’s shot just more than five minutes into the overtime period, when the Stars had a 14-8 advantage on shots.
“It’s tough. It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said. “We came in here obviously wanting to take the series back to Nashville, and I thought we gave ourselves a great opportunity to do that.”
Blake Comeau scored his first playoff goal for the Stars, tying the game at 1-1 in the second period. But he also had a tripping penalty with 1:53 left in regulation that put Nashville on the power play.
The Predators stuck to the series script and didn’t score a goal. They didn’t even get a shot on goal before the third period ended, or when finishing the final seconds with a man advantage to start overtime.
They were 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 6, and finished 0-for-15 in the series. They were the only one of the 16 teams that made the playoffs that didn’t have a power-play goal in the postseason.
Hurricanes 5, Capitals 2
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Jordan Staal scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist in the third period, and the Hurricanes beat Washington to force Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.
“We didn’t have a tomorrow,” Carolina oach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Justin Williams scored an insurance goal seconds after the Capitals had the tying goal disallowed, Warren Foegele and Teuvo Teravainen also scored, Dougie Hamilton added an empty-netter and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves.
The Hurricanes scored three third-period goals in bouncing back from a 6-0 beatdown in Game 5 and prolonging their first playoff appearance in a decade by one game at least.
“We answered the bell,” said Williams — known as “Mr. Game 7” for his NHL-record 14 points in those games, plus his record-tying seven goals and his teams’ 7-1 record in them.
“I said at the start of the series that if they’re going to knock us out, we’re not going to do it easy,” he added. “We’re not going to let it be easy on them. Let’s go play another game.”
Game 7 is Wednesday night in Washington. The winner will play the New York Islanders in the second round.
Alex Ovechkin scored for the third straight game, Brett Connolly also scored and Braden Holtby stopped 31 shots.
Washington — which won 10 road games a year ago on its run to the first Stanley Cup title in club history — went 0-3 on the road in this series after winning both regular-season meetings in Raleigh.
Staal gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game at 3:51 of the third period, following a scramble in front of Holtby. Justin Faulk uncorked a shot from the point and Brock McGinn and Staal both poked at it, with Staal ultimately slipping it past the Capitals goalie to make it 3-2.
“I was just trying to track the puck, and honestly, try to get a piece of it,” Staal said. “And it was fortunate to go in.”
Then came the key momentum swing of this one — the waved-off goal that Washington thought should have counted.
As Evgeny Kuznetsov tried to tuck the puck under Mrazek’s pads with 9:26 remaining, Ovechkin crashed into the goalie. The officials waved it off, ruling that the Capitals’ captain interfered with Mrazek by pushing his pad.
Washington coach Todd Reirden said he felt the play was “worth a challenge” after consulting with his video review staffers.
“That’s not how the league or the referees saw it,” he said.
Williams then put Carolina up by two goals 84 seconds later by tipping Brett Pesce’s shot past Holtby and Hamilton extended the lead with his empty-netter with 3:06 left.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5