On Thursday night, a tale of two different teams occurred at Bridgestone Arena. The Dallas Stars were 4-4-3 over their last ten games and were coming off a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Nashville Predators, on the other hand, entered the match-up after a dominating 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers. In front of a crowd of 16,347, the Predators were able to dominate the Conference III showdown by a score of 3-1.
The majority of the first period saw chances for both teams, including a reviewed shot off the post from Erik Cole (DAL) and multiple chances from the line of Matt Cullen, Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson. It wasn’t until 18:07 of the first, that Erik Cole broke the scoreless game with a nifty backhand as he snuck up behind Hutton from the office. Less than a minute later, the Predators were given a 5-on-3 power play that quickly led to a goal by Patric Hornqvist in the slot off a feed from David Legwand (and Shea Weber). Continuing on the man-advantage, the Predators scored just 28 seconds later when Legwand picked up a rebound off a shot from Roman Josi (also from Weber). This provided a quick turnaround to answer the first (and only) goal from the Dallas Stars and provided plenty of momentum for the Predators as they entered the second period. On the two goals to end the period, Legwand expressed that, “it’s a huge momentum builder when you can go two for two on the power play…It is a game changer for our team.”
Midway through the second period, during a delayed penalty call on the Stars, Paul Gaustad picked up a juicy rebound and wristed the puck into the net that was left wide open by Kari Lehtonen. After obtaining the 3-1 lead, the Predators began to play shut-down defense, which proved successful, including an important penalty kill with Weber in the box for boarding.
Carter Hutton and the defense continued to defend the 3-1 lead splendidly, especially with Hutton being tested multiple times by Dallas and finishing 33 of 34. The Stars attempted multiple east/west attempts and Hutton was able to track the puck extremely well. On his performance, Hutton noted, “I get a lot of shots in practice, so my cardio stays up. It’s more of a confidence factor and getting back in there.”
The Predators are proving to be as streaky of a team as most expected, following their five-game losing streak with two straight wins now over the New York Rangers and more importantly over the division-rival Dallas Stars. The Predators look to make it three wins in a row when they take on the San Jose Sharks, currently 5th in the conference, on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at Bridgestone Arena.
Below is video from our interview with Roman Josi, where he speaks about the demand in playing time that head coach Barry Trotz has dealt him and his linemate, Shea Weber, over the past two games. Tonight, Josi was on the ice for 27:22 and Weber 26:45.
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua