The underdog prevails yet again.
With its playoff hopes on the line in overtime, Nashville was hoping to force a Game 7. But instead it became the latest victim of the first-round upsets that have been trending this postseason, as the Stars eliminated the Predators with a 2–1 Game 6 win. In a game that turned into a battle between Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop, Dallas’s John Klingberg would be the one to solve the puzzle with a beauty of a wrister 17:02 into overtime.
Nashville got off to another quick start, unleashing 19 shots in the first period, one of those giving the team the early lead when P.K. Subban took a shot from the point and Austin Watson was there to send home the rebound. Dallas equalized it in the second and then it turned into a goalie show. Both stretched and flashed their gloves to make impressive saves, particularly in a third-period track meet that could have caused whiplash. The Stars came out fast to start that frame, with Esa Lindell ringing a shot off the post early in the period. Dallas kept the pressure on Rinne, but Nashville responded with several chances of its own. Both sides had odd-man rushes and breakaways aplenty, but Bishop and Rinne were locked in.
Nashville, which hadn’t scored a power-play goal all postseason, was granted another chance with the man advantage with less than two minutes left when Blake Comeau was called for tripping. But it wouldn’t be the moment the regular season’s worst power play broke through, so this one needed extra time.
The Predators join the Lightning and Flames as regular season division champions to be ousted in the opening round, and the Islanders remain the lone higher seed to win its first-round series so far. The Stars will play the Blues in the only second-round series that is set as of Monday night.
HURRICANES 5, CAPITALS 2
Home ice proved crucial yet again in this series as the Hurricanes made the first lead change of the series to force a Game 7, but the win didn’t come without at least a little bit of controversy along the way.
The Capitals had control early on with Brett Connolly scoring five minutes into the game, picking up the puck along the boards behind the net and skating around untouched to go top shelf on Petr Mrazek. Warren Foegele (because who else?) tied it up a few minutes later just after a power play expired, grabbing up a rebound and doing a little spin move from the high slot that went right past Braden Holtby.
Alex Ovechkin regained Washington’s lead with 4:48 left in the first, picking up the puck in transition and firing it around a sliding Jaccob Slavin, then breaking out into an enthusiastic celebration, but his enthusiasm would later grow into frustration.
With Carolina leading 3–2 in the third thanks to goals from Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Staal, the Capitals thought they had evened it back up when Evgeny Kuznetsov put a shot on net and Ovechkin poked it through. But the goal was immediately waved off. Washington challenged and the call was upheld because of goaltender interference, though this was not explained by the on-ice officials.
Justin Williams scored an insurance goal shortly after with a deflection that went five-hole on Holtby and Dougie Hamilton got an empty-netter to close it out and send this back to Washington, where the Canes will try to break another series pattern and be the first to win on the road.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
This was one of the many saves made (on both ends of the ice) in the third period that sent this game to overtime. Colton Sissons put the moves on Bishop, who had to look back to make sure the puck didn’t go in the net.
1. Ben Bishop, DAL — The Stars didn’t have the fastest starts for the majority of this series (and the regular season for that matter), but Bishop was there to keep them in it while his offense warmed up. He had a playoff career-high 47 saves for Dallas in Game 6.
2. Pekka Rinne, NSH — It certainly wasn’t the ending Rinne had in mind, but the 2018 Vezina winner stopped 49 shots, a playoff best for the netminder.
3. John Klingberg, DAL — If there were any moment to score your second-ever playoff goal, in overtime to clinch a series sounds like a good time.