Stars moving on, motivated by payback for hit on Pavelski
Dallas got the best payback against the Wild for their hit on Joe Pavelski in the series opener. The Stars are going to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
“The immediate reaction of your group is everyone wants revenge,” first-year Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “We wanted to try and get the temperature down on that, as quickly as we could, and get our focus back. The best thing we could do for Pavs is win the series and let him play again.”
Their 38-year-old center will get to do that, against either Colorado or Seattle, after the Stars wrapped up their series with a 4-1 win in Game 6 Friday night in Minnesota.
“Go back to my third-line duties now,” veteran center Tyler Seguin said after his four power-play goals in the series.
Once Pavelski went into concussion protocol after Game 1, Seguin joined the top line with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson in the series against the Wild. The only Stars player who has won a Stanley Cup, Seguin also had a more prominent role on the power play.
Pavelski banged his head hard on the ice after a blindside hit from Matt Dumba midway through the second period of Dallas’ double-overtime loss in Game 1 on April 17 that didn’t even draw a major penalty.
“I think Pavs going down early in that series rattled us a little bit,” DeBoer said. “I thought we were getting better as the series went on. So we worked through some stuff against a really tough opponent and proud of our group.”
Pavelski practiced Thursday, and took part in the morning skate before Game 6, but didn’t play in the Stars' third straight victory after falling behind 2-1 in the series.
DeBoer said Pavelski “was close” and that it would have been hard to keep him out of a Game 7.
The Stars instead get some extra recovery time for Pavelski and everyone else after a physical series since their second-round opponent won't be decided until Sunday night, when the Avalanche host Game 7 of their first-round series against Seattle.
DeBoer has now taken four teams past the first round of the playoffs: New Jersey and San Jose both went to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season, and the Stars are trying to get back there for the second time in four seasons.
Hintz had an NHL-best and Dallas-record 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the opening round. He scored on the Stars' first shot for the second time in the series in Game 6 — the other opening-shot score was a short-hander in Game 2 on his way to a hat trick.
And while Jake Oettinger may still not be over losing the Class AA state championship game as a freshman in the home arena of the Wild — or that overtime goal by Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau in Game 7 of last year's first-round finale after he had 64 saves — the 24-year-old goaltender has his first NHL playoff series victory.
The clincher came in Oettinger's home state, only about 30 minutes from his hometown.
“Probably one of my favorite hockey moments in my career is winning this series,” Oettinger said. “I think I learned just how hard it is to win the Cup. We’ve got to go do that three more times now.”
In his brief playoff history, Oettinger has a 1.83 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage in his 13 postseason starts for the Stars.
“The guy’s a competitor, he’s a gamer, solid every night and we know what we’re getting out of him and we love playing in front of him,” captain Jamie Benn said. “He’s been a rock all year.”
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press