Dallas Stars

What to watch for as Stars look for closure Monday night in Game 6 against Predators

John Klingberg assisted three of the Stars five goals Wednesday

John Klingberg assisted three of the Dallas Stars five goals Wednesday in Game 4 win.
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John Klingberg assisted three of the Dallas Stars five goals Wednesday in Game 4 win.

The Dallas Stars are on the brink of advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016.

They can eliminate the Nashville Predators with a Game 6 win at 7:30 p.m. Monday at American Airlines Center. The Stars-Predators winner advances to play the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

The Stars lost to the Blues in seven games of a second-round series the last time they were in the playoffs in 2016.

Three things to watch in Game 6:

1. Closing it out

The message was coming clear from the Stars just seconds after winning Game 5. The toughest win of the series will be the next. “The next one is the hardest one because it’s the potential to end someone’s season, so that’s a challenge in front of us now,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said.

Goalie Ben Bishop, who was named one of three Vezina Trophy finalists for the league’s best goalie, is likely to be the key for the Stars ending the series Monday night.

“As much as it’s an individual award, it’s a team thing,” Bishop said. “The guys have done a great job in front of me all season. It’s an honor, but it’s a great team recognition.”

After an odd off night in Game 3, Bishop is back to looking like one of the best goalies in the NHL. He had 30 saves in Game 5.

2. Top line Stars

The superstars of the team — Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn — have played well, including Benn’s career-high three assists in Game 5, but the Stars’ edge against Nashville has included younger players coming up big.

“I think it’s great and I think throughout this series so far, you’ve seen different guys step up. Roope (Hintz) has stepped up, Dicky (Jason Dickinson) stepped up, and Miro (Heiskanen) stepped up,” Seguin said. “I don’t think these younger guys have any fear of the big moments or playoffs. It’s been a good team effort so far. Just like last game, we’re going to park this pretty quickly. Play some cards on the way home and enjoy the win today and get ready to get back to work.”

3. Confident, but not over-confident

The Stars have kept a quiet confidence about their team and it has shown up in the playoffs. Even after a potentially demoralizing Game 3 loss at home their players and coach weren’t rattled. That steadiness should serve them well with what’s on the line Monday.

“I think it’s grown quite a bit,” Montgomery said. “I think players relish getting out there right now and everybody wants the puck and everybody wants to hunt the puck. Right now, players are really feeling good about themselves. That’s a good place to be, but we have to stay in the moment and get back ready for Monday night.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.