Rookie Miro Heiskanen scored twice, and Mats Zuccarello notched the game-winner midway through the third period as the visiting Dallas Stars upset the Nashville Predators 3-2 in the opening clash of their first-round Western Conference playoff series Wednesday night. Dallas goalie Ben Bishop made 30 saves to hang on for the win over the Central Division champions.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Saturday in Nashville. Heiskanen, a 2017 first-round draft choice who netted 12 goals and 33 points in the regular season, scored on the power play at 12:37 of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit. Moments after Roope Hintz was denied on a golden chance off the rush, Heiskanen sent a point shot that ricocheted off Predators defender Mattias Ekholm and into the net to make it a 1-1 game.
Heiskanen, 19, became the youngest defenseman in franchise history to score a playoff goal and then did it again at 6:10 of the third period to put his team ahead for good with another seeing-eye point shot. Zuccarello then scored with 9:21 remaining in the third period for the Stars, who reached the playoffs with a wild-card berth. Jamie Benn created a turnover in his own zone to get the puck up the ice and another on the forecheck before the puck eventually made it to the point. Ben Lovejoy's long shot was stopped, but Zuccarello pounced on the rebound.
Both Nashville goals came from defensemen, which shouldn't be a big surprise considering how much impact the team's blue-liners have on the offensive attack. Captain Roman Josi opened the scoring at the 12:12 mark of the first period with a lovely backhand from the slot. P.K. Subban netted a highlight-reel goal to make it a 3-2 game with 6:36 remaining in regulation and give Nashville new life, but the hosts couldn't find the equalizer during their late push.
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 26 shots in the loss. --Field Level Media
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