Building off the momentum of the late rally on Saturday night, the Nashville Predators entered Monday night’s match up against the Dallas Stars looking at an opportunity to get a win against a division rival and jump them in the standings. After gaining a three-goal lead, the Predators were able to completely shut down the Stars, finishing with a 4-1 victory.
“We carried that momentum over to this game and they actually got the lead there but we came out really strong and it was a great team effort,” said Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist.
The first period did not start out in the best way for the Nashville Predators as a point shot from Shea Weber was immediately called off due to David Legwand’s stick getting under Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen, turning into a goaltender interference call. On the ensuing Stars power play, some great passing from Ray Whitney and Rich Peverley to Cody Eakin turned into a Dallas goal at 4:45 for Eakin’s 11th of the season.
Midway through the first, the Predators did well at locking down the Stars offense at even strength. The scoring opportunities that Nashville had at this point were quickly gobbled up by Lehtonen. Finally, at 11:35, the Predators were able to cash in on multiple chances when Nick Spaling swatted in a rebound right in front of Lehtonen for his eighth of the season.
“I think right from the start we were playing really well and we had some good responses after their goal,” said Nick Spaling regarding the win. “So we’re happy with our performance.”
At 14:21 of the first, Nashville was put on the power play when Cody Eakin took a hooking penalty in his defensive zone. The Predators weren’t able to score, but they did maintain possession the entire power play and generate several chances. Right after the power play expired, Shea Weber picked up a tipped pass from Eric Nystrom and snapped it past Lehtonen at 17:16. With his 13th goal of the season, Weber continues to lead the league in goals by a defenseman.
Nashville would go into the first intermission leading 2-1, with the Stars leading in shots 11-9.
The start of the second period was slower compared to the first. There were some evenly exchanged opportunities for both teams, but no quality scoring chances. Near the seven-minute mark, Patric Hornqvist generated a breakaway opportunity, but was not able to convert as he couldn’t generate much speed as he was near the end of his shift..
Midway through the second, the Predators went on the power play when Antoine Roussel took a holding penalty at 12:31. Some nifty passing created an opportunity as Craig Smith found Matt Cullen low, but Lehtonen was up to task to make the save and the Stars killed it off.
With three minutes remaining in the second, a kerfuffle erupted in front of Carter Hutton, in which Kevin Klein and Antoine Roussel dropped the gloves for a rousing battle.
“Klein doesn’t fight very often. I’ve been here his whole career, and when he does fight, I can’t remember him not losing a fight,” said head coach Barry Trotz.
“Dropping the gloves and engaging like that for your teammates and that was just some scrap and the guys responded really well from that,” spoke Matt Cullen on Klein’s fight. “That’s how you get a little space out there; guys are looking around over their shoulder after you have one like that.”
The fight certainly woke up the fans at Bridgestone Arena, and in turn the Predators scored a last-minute goal with a Roman Josi shot from the point at 19:29. Josi’s sixth goal of the season was assisted by Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom, with Nystrom recording his second assist of the game.
“I’ve just gotten luckier I guess, I always try to chump up and play and make something happen and get a lot of shots through and lately they’ve been going in,” said Roman Josi on what is now a four-game scoring streak.
Early on in the third period, the Predators notched the Frosty goal at 3:46. On a rush, Colin Wilson dropped a pass back to Mike Fisher, who put in his 13th goal of the season. It was quite the beautiful play.
Throughout the first half of the third period, Nashville dominated possession. At one point, they kept the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute and a half. This trend continued throughout the rest of the game. During this time, goaltender Carter Hutton made some spectacular saves, and the crowd showed their appreciation.
“That’s what he has been able to do,” said Trotz on Hutton winning his third straight. “He’s a battler. He’s worked hard on his game.”
Late in the third, David Legwand took his second penalty of the game with a holding call at 17:03. The Predators were able kill off the penalty and went on to win the game 4-1 in dominating fashion.
Below are Barry Trotz’s post game comments.