NASHVILLE — Alexander Radulov scored two goals in the second period and the Dallas Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Saturday to push the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed to the brink of elimination.
The Stars came into the post-season as the West’s first wild card and are up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series over the two-time defending Central Division champs. Dallas will have a chance Monday night at home in Game 6 to join Colorado and Columbus as the latest lower seed coming through in the opening round.
Jason Dickinson also scored twice, Tyler Seguin had a goal and an assist, and Jamie Benn had three assists. The Stars have scored at least five goals in back-to-back playoff games for the ninth time in franchise history, the first since Games 3 and 4 of the 1991 conference finals when this team was still in Minnesota.
Ben Bishop, named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy during the game, made 30 saves for the win.
Rocco Grimaldi, Ryan Johansen and Kyle Turris scored for Nashville. The Predators lost back-to-back playoff games for the first time since Games 5 and 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette got forward Brian Boyle back after missing the past three games with an appendectomy and mixed up his lines.
It just wasn’t enough with Dallas’ top line taking control. Seguin, Benn and Radulov took 16 of the Stars’ 26 shots, and the trio was responsible for all three goals in the second.
Grimaldi has been Nashville’s most surprising scorer in this series, and he gave them a 1-0 lead at 6:25 with a wrister over Bishop’s glove. Then Rinne came through with a pair of dazzling saves while on his back 70 seconds later, stopping a backhander from Radulov with his left leg and then a shot from Benn with his left.
Dickinson tied it up for Dallas at 13:08 of the first, beating Rinne with a wrister for his first goal this post-season.
The Stars seized control in the second.
The Predators failed to clear the puck after winning a faceoff, and Seguin passed to Radulov who scored his third this series into an open net with Rinne at the far post just 40 seconds into the second period for a 2-1 lead. Radulov gave Dallas a 3-1 lead with a goal from the slot off a backhanded pass from Benn at 7:41 with the Stars fully in control.
Johansen scored his first goal this post-season at 9:18 off a pass from Filip Forsberg. Dallas simply made it a 4-2 lead as the Stars caught Nashville in a line change, and Benn passed to Seguin in the slot who slid the puck under Rinne’s left pad at 15:54.
Dickinson made it 5-2 with a slap shot from the high slot off another Nashville turnover at 1:57 of the third. Turris was credited with a goal at 2:25 where the puck went off Stars defenceman Miro Heiskanen’s skate.
NOTES: Nashville came into this post-season one of only three teams to reach the second round each of the past three seasons with Washington and Pittsburgh, and the Penguins were swept in the first round. … Radulov posted his second multi-goal performance in the playoffs. … Grimaldi scored only five goals in 53 games during the regular season.
The Stars can end the series Monday night in Game 6 in Dallas.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press