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Nashville Predators 5, Dallas Stars 2: Dulling the Stars

High-flying Dallas team can’t solve Saros; Bishop and Lehtonen lit up in blowout.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators traveled to Dallas tonight, and they dominated for a majority of the full 60 minutes. This game, despite being an early December game, had potential to shake up the Central Division standings. Before puck drop, the Winnipeg Jets (yes, you’re still reading that right) were in sole possession of the top spot in the Central with 38 points. The Preds 37 points had them in second, with the Blues one behind them at 36 points. Tonight’s opponent sat comfortably in 4th place in the division with 33 points.

The game started well for the Stars, as they controlled much of the possession for the first two minutes of the game. The Predators nearly struck first off of a Freddy Gaudreau shot, but Austin Watson was unable to put the puck on net. Just as the Preds were starting to gain momentum, Nick Bonino got himself sent to the penalty box with 15:57 remaining.

Dallas fired a few shots at the net during the first half of the power play, but they were not able to control the puck much during the rest of the power play, as the Preds killed off the game’s first penalty. Kevin Fiala nearly scored shortly thereafter, which ended up being the last scoring chance for either team for more than 3 minutes. The teams got a few more chances, but no one looked as if they would be able to find a way to get the puck past either of these goalies.

The Predators took to the man advantage with 4:43 remaining. Thirty seconds later, Kevin Fiala put one past Ben Bishop to give the team an early lead. Despite a few very late chances from the Stars, the first period ended with the Predators holding onto a 1-0 lead.

The second period started off the same way as the first, and might have even started better for the Stars than the last period. A quick save by Saros off of an Alexander Radulov shot kept the Preds in the drivers seat and slowed the Stars’ attack down. The Stars regained momentum with two quick fights, one between McKenzie and Bitetto, and the other between Watson and Oleksiak. The Predators then killed all of that momentum as Cody McLeod scored on an empty net that Ben Bishop accidentally knocked out of position.

Following McLeod’s first goal of the game, Pontus Aberg tallied his first goal of the season (and 2nd of his career) to extend Nashville’s lead to three, and a Turris powerplay goal a few minutes later made it 4-0 good guys.

Despite being on the penalty kill a few minutes later, Austin Watson took advantage of a missed shot by Radulov, faking the wraparound to dish an assist to Calle Jarnkrok, who buried the shot to give the Predators a 5-0 lead. That five goal lead is what the Predators took to the locker room during the final intermission, riding high as they looked to put themselves atop the Western Conference standings.

Another quick start to a period came from the Stars, and this time they scored, bringing themselves within four. A late goal that went in off of Anthony Bitetto’s skate brought the Preds’ lead down to three, but that was where it would end, as Nashville finished off the Stars 5-2.

Random Observations

  • Saros getting the start tonight, which should be expected with a back-to-back
  • Two things about tonight’s lines: First, how will the FiST line play as a first line, and how will Forsberg and Arvy do on separate lines without Joey?
  • Quick start for Dallas, this is not what we want
  • Dumb penalty for Bonino there
  • Penalty = kilt
  • So close Kev
  • Lots of energy for a team on the second half of a back-to-back
  • Seemed like everyone wanted in on the spinning right there
  • Thank you Jamie Benn for that power play opportunity.
  • Not a single Predators player scared to make (or take) a big hit tonight
  • Good start tonight, let’s keep it up for 40 more minutes
  • Two fights, and somehow neither one involved Cody McLeod
  • I mean a goal is one way for Cody McLeod to get involved in this game
  • Wow, that turned around quickly
  • Oh my god, is Lunging Lehtonen making his way between the pipes?
  • I would like to know who is in goal right now, and also what he has done with Juuse Saros
  • This is just ugly
  • Penalty = kilt x2 (also we scored a shorty)
  • 20 more minutes of this should be nice
  • Don’t look now, but the 1st place Jets just lost 5-1 to a Red Wings team on a 7 game losing streak
  • Didn’t expect Juuse to finish with a shutout, and that’s the kind of goal I thought he’d give up
  • Okay, I definitely thought one of those would go in (I’m glad none did)
  • That was quite an unlucky goal
  • So, what’s this team going to look like with Ellis, Johansen, and Hartnell?

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. Juuse Saros - Bringing a 1-3-1 season record into this game, Saros saved 43 of the 45 shots he faced, and one of those goals was arguably not his fault
  2. The FiST line - Fiala and Turris scored a goal, Turris added an assist, and Craig Smith held his own.
  3. Cody McLeod - He finished at +1, with 1 goal on two shots, and he also did what he is best at, leading the team in hits with 5. All of this while seeing the least ice time of any Pred. Congratulations Mr. McLeod, you earned this one.

Tweets of the Night

Having depth is such a nice thing

Good to see the fans traveling well this year

Game Extras

Game Video

[NHL dot com is being its usual moody self... no videos tonight]