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Nashville Predators 3, Dallas Stars 4 (OT): Preds Save A Point On The Heels Of James Neal

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A feisty Stars team gave the Preds all they could handle. The comeback in the 3rd period was nice, but losing this one hurts.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators, with 3 days off and playing a team on the second game of a back-to-back, lost to the Stars in overtime at home despite getting some key players back on the ice.

Let's start with the line changes. Given recent practices, it was no surprise to see James Neal, Shea Weber, and Matt Cullen all returning to the lineup. Mike Santorelli was a surprising late scratch, as he apparently had an illness. This made Victor Bartley the 7th defensman today, but he skated as a forward with Calle Jarnkrok and Gabriel Bourque.

The game started in Nashville's favor, with Filip Forsberg gathering in a deflection and putting the home team up 1-0. From there, the play was largely dictated by Nashville, as all four lines of forwards did a nice job generating chances and recovering defensively. Speaking of defense, with Weber back, it's clear that there is about 80% less room for the opposing team to work with in front of the net when he's out there. And when Dallas scored to tie the game, he wasn't out there to clear out Travis Moen from getting to the rebound. So it went to the third period tied at 1.

In the 3rd period, the Preds went from buffoonery to beautiful. The Stars went up 3-1 after goals by Tyler Seguin and Colton Sceviour. It looked bleak. But the Preds put forth a 9-10 minute stretch late in the 3rd that was out of this world. First, Ryan Ellis rocketed home a Forsberg pass to get it within one, then James Neal fired home an incredible shot to tie it up late. All the momentum was on the back of the Preds.

(sad trombone music)

In the overtime period, the Preds had plenty of great chances, but couldn't put them home. Cody Eakin is awarded a penalty shot and wins it for Dallas.

Random Observations

  • Shea Weber with a nice welcome back slapper. It was LOUD.
  • Scoresberg! He gets a fortunate bounce off the Ekholm shot and spikes it home! How lucky was it exactly? Ekholm's shot deflected off of the upturned skate blade of Colton Sceviour. Literally an 1/8th inch either way, and that puck doesn't make its way to Filip and then the back of the net.
  • The 1st period saw the Preds lead in possession, shots, and goals. But they also had two or three awful giveaways in their own zone, which the Stars were unable to capitalize on. If those 20 minutes were in the playoffs against the Blackhawks, Blues, Kings, Ducks, etc. the score would be much different.
  • The Stars tie it up as Travis Moen sends a rebound by Rinne. Nashville is still dictating the play, but for the second consecutive game the Preds dominate the 1st period and lose the lead in the 2nd. By the way, it was another turnover in the defensive giveaway that lead to the goal, this time by Forsberg.
  • Play is shifting midway through the  2nd period. Stars are letting loose on their attacks, and the Preds defense looks a half step slow. It's taken a few lucky bounces and a few key saves by Rinne to keep this game tied.
  • Preds get their second power-play, but nothing they did looked terribly dangerous. Speaking of dangerous, Tyler Seguin had a wide open breakaway shortly after the PP ended. Seguin had Rinne beaten badly, but the post held strong. It really feels as if the game is slipping away from the Preds at this point. The Stars played 24 hours ago and look faster and stronger.
  • The slow descent continues... The Stars take a 2-1 lead because Tyler Seguin illegally attached rocket boosters to the puck and drilled it by Rinne. Then a bit later, after a scrum in front of the Preds net, the puck deflects and slides in. It was agonizing. It seemed like it was sliding across the ice for 5-6 seconds, inevitably bound for the goal line. The Stars have a 3-1 lead and now I'm just trying to remember whether my New Year's Eve goal was to not drink at all, to drink less, or to start drinking heavily.
  • Ellis! The Human Rocket Ship was parked in the runway and Forsberg gave him the all clear! This one will be a little more interesting down the stretch.
  • That two minute shift was incredible. Just incredible. There was no goal at the end of it, but still... just a sight to see. So many impressive plays.
  • HEEL JAMES NEAL JUST TIED IT UP. A LASER from the left circle, after Ribs circled the offensive zone looking to pass. And with the extra attacker on the ice (finally!) This has been a phenomenal 5 minute stretch by the top line.
  • So many chances, but none of them going in. Shea Weber has probably taken 45 shots and all 45 of them have hit the inboards.
  • Cody Eakin wins it. His penalty shot beats Rinne.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • James Neal: a goal and an assist in his first game back. The game-tying goal was a beauty.
  • Filip Forsberg: kid just keeps plugging away... another 2 point night.
  • The Game-Ops folks! They put together another brilliant on-ice projection before the game. Check it out here if you missed it. I'm not sure why they randomly threw in a plug for the Franson & Santorelli Deli opening up on 4th Avenue. Whatever pays the bills I guess.

Tweets Of The Night

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>We are all jealous of the moment this man got to have with Neal. <a href="http://t.co/UB1WN70fjX">pic.twitter.com/UB1WN70fjX</a></p>&mdash; On The Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck) <a href="https://twitter.com/OnTheForecheck/status/584546864822931457">April 5, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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