Stars beat Wild for top wild-card spot in Western Conference
DALLAS (AP) — With Ben Bishop as stubborn as ever in goal, a scoreless tie after three periods would have been enough to give Dallas the Western Conference’s top wild-card spot Saturday night.
The Stars’ offense provided some insurance, sealing the deal.
Tyler Seguin broke open the game with two third-period goals, Tyler Pitlick added another and the Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 behind Bishop’s career-high seventh shutout of the season.
“The fun begins now,” rookie Stars coach Jim Montgomery said.
Dallas will open the playoffs against Nashville, which rallied to win a three-team race for the Central Division title. The Stars needed at least a tie to stay ahead of second wild card Colorado.
Seguin has missed that fun during the last two seasons.
“I just can’t wait to get started,” he said. “We wanted to go in with a win and stay in our division, so it’s a good opportunity.”
Seguin scored the first goal on the power play with 17:16 to play. He took a pass from Alexander Radulov high in the left faceoff circle and sent a slap shot over Minnesota’s Alex Stalock and into the upper-left corner of the net.
The Wild had stopped 22 straight power plays over nine games.
For the second goal, Seguin’s team-high 33rd of the season, he took the rebound of a shot by Jamie Oleksiak in front and backhanded the puck past Stalock six minutes later.
Pitlick scored off another rebound with 7:59 remaining.
Montgomery said being in front for rebounds was a point of emphasis during the second intermission.
“We talked about stopping at the net and screening the goalie because we thought he was seeing a lot.”
Bishop made 24 saves while recording the 31st shutout of his career. He finished the season with career bests in save percentage (a league-leading .934) and goals against average (1.98).
“It’s your job,” Bishop said, “so when you have the numbers, obviously it’s nice, but that’s all in the past now.
“The regular season’s over, and it’s all a wash now. Just kind of get ready for Game 1.”
Stalock was far busier, stopping 41 shots.
“I felt bad for him,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He was great tonight. Coming into the third period where you don’t deserve to be tied and he has single-handedly got you tied up.”
The Stars were 2-0-1 in three games at Nashville this season.
“We knew any team we were going to play is a good team, and we’re obviously the underdog,” Seguin said. “Nashville’s one of the best. We look forward to going to work.”
Dallas came up empty during a scoreless first period despite a 14-7 advantage in shots on goal. Each team had one unsuccessful power play. The Stars also led in shots with the man advantage, 4-0.
In the scoreless second period, Dallas had an even bigger advantage in shots at 20-5, but only the Wild put the puck in the net. Montgomery challenged Greg Pateryn’s slap shot from the blue line that went past Bishop 18 seconds before intermission. The video review showed that Minnesota was offside on that possession.
“We could see it,” Montgomery said. “That one was pretty evident.”
Stalock turned away good chances by Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, a 2-on-1 break by Seguin and Andrew Cogliano and a flurry of shots with two minutes left in the period.
Bishop stopped a close-range shot by Kevin Fiala during the final minute.
Wild defenseman Nick Seeler and Dallas center Radek Faksa energized the second period with two scuffles. They were penalized for roughing at 7:05. After leaving the penalty box, they went back right back in for fighting at 9:11.
NOTES: Fiala had the unusual distinction of playing in 83 games this season - 64 for Nashville, with another 19 after being traded to the Wild. Playing in all 82 games were Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon, and the Stars’ Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Tyler Seguin. Marcus Pettersson played in 83 contests for Anaheim and Pittsburgh. ... Minnesota LW Zach Parise (illness) missed the season’s final two games. ... Dallas successfully killed 15 of 16 penalties in the final six games.
Wild: Can look forward to June 21, the first day of the NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
Stars: Begin the Stanley Cup playoffs at Nashville.