CEDAR PARK — Brendan Ranford thought he won the Texas Stars regular-season finale 2 minutes, 28 seconds into overtime.
Ranford’s shot off the rush beat San Antonio Rampage goalie Michael Houser, but it connected with both posts and the crossbar. After a lengthy review, the call was confirmed that the puck never crossed the line.
On his next chance, Ranford didn’t leave any doubt as he collected a pass from Patrik Nemeth and beat Houser to give the Stars a 4-3 overtime victory and send them into the playoffs on a four-game win streak.
“I was lucky to get the one after the next shift out,” Ranford said. “It felt really nice. I’ve had a few (misses in overtime this season). Like I can go back to a wraparound that just barely missed, and there’s a couple more I can think of.”
Texas will open a best-of-five first-round series against the fourth-seeded Rockford IceHogs starting Friday at Cedar Park Center. Game 2 will be played Saturday, also in Cedar Park. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be in Rockford, Ill.
While Ranford’s goal sealed the victory, 2013 NHL first-round draft pick Jason Dickinson made his presence felt in his first home game with the Stars.
Dickinson had a pair of assists, one night after he made his professional debut and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win in San Antonio.
He’s impressed the coaches — and a large number of Dallas Stars operations staff members in attendance Saturday. The 19-year-old will be a fixture in the playoffs, even though he just joined the team this week after finishing his junior career with Guelph Storm.
“He’s a special player,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said after practice Saturday morning. “He’s a first-round pick. He plays both sides of the puck, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. … He’s going to get a chance in the bottom-six (forwards) and he’s going to push other players.”
He’s already started pushing new linemate Matej Stranksy. The 22-year-old Czech winger had three four goals in his first 68 games. In two games with Dickinson as his centerman he’s scored three, including two on Saturday.