The holidays have been anything but happy for the Nashville Predators, and not even returning home could deliver much in the way of cheer on Thursday.
Anton Khudobin made 49 saves in shutting out the Preds, sending them to their fifth consecutive loss and fourth straight in regulation.
The returns of Viktor Arvidsson (out 21 games with a broken thumb) and P.K. Subban (out 19 games with a lower-body injury) stirred up hope of a boost to an offense that had been struggling.
Nashville (22-14-2) generated plenty of offensive pressure early, but Tyler Pitlick beat Pekka Rinne for the game’s first goal 7:20 into the contest.
Kyle Turris took the game’s first penalty for holding at the 12:40 mark, sending the Stars (19-16-3) onto a power play that generated several shots from the top of the circle, especially the right side. The Predators killed the penalty, however.
Dallas controlled the back half of the opening stanza, but the Preds’ defense did not allow a single high-danger scoring chance in the first 20 minutes.
Several good looks at the net sent Anton Khudobin scrambling a bit early in the second period. Despite Nashville’s push, Dallas extended its lead to 2-0 at the 11:09 mark when a Mattias Janmark slap shot trickled in off of Rinne’s glove following a rush that began when Matt Irwin failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Pitlick took a holding penalty at the 15:32 mark, sending the Preds to their first power play of the game. Nashville’s first power play unit was on the ice the entire time, spending all but 10 seconds in the Dallas end, but was unable to put a shot on net.
Nashville surpassed its season-high shot total of 46 attempts on goal in the loss, and it also set a franchise record for most shot attempts in a shutout loss.
- Oh, hello. Arvy, P.K., nice to see you guys again.
- Some, um, interesting line combos with the reinforcements coming back. Calle Jarnkrok up with Joey and Arvy. Fiala and Smith centered by... (adjusts glasses) ... Nick Bonino. Hartman with Kyle Turris and Rocco Grimaldi, then Miikka Salomaki-Frederick Gaudreau-Austin Watson. We’ll see if that’s the case after 10 minutes. (narrator: “surprisingly, they were”)
- Pretty nice start in the offensive zone on the first couple of trips. First a sustained shift, then pucks to the net early on zone entry (with, get this — follow-ups).
- Skating with purpose and speed...huh, wonder what might have helped start this?
- Pitlick sounds like something somebody would do only if they were wasted and lost a bet.
- Rinne, when he’s seeing the puck, has been pretty darn good. It’s that one shot where Matt Irwin provided a perfect screen that he couldn’t keep out.
- Preds are allowing too many clean zone entries late in the first. Also, it might be time to split up Subban and Irwin.
- Salomaki with a thunderous hit on Klingberg. Dang, son.
- Ryan Hartman with only six shifts in the first period. Part of that had to do with the penalty kill, but still.
- Some good sustained pressure in the Dallas zone and Arvy finds himself all alone in the slot somehow...but Khudobin holds the fort. Good work behind the net, especially from Johansen and Josi.
- Matt Irwin has been responsible for both goals against Rinne tonight. His stock is sinking faster than the Titanic right now.
- They’re continuing to get shots, but it seems like the Preds are just pressing too much right now. They seem tight. One goal might loosen them up a lot, if they could ever get it.
- So, yeah, getting a power play didn’t help things here, either.
- A Dallas misplay turns into a 3-on-2 that gets...held up at the blue line. Folks, it’s that kind of night, I’m afraid.
- 19-6 shot edge in the second for the Preds. So far, it hasn’t mattered.
- Lots of shots, but getting in position for rebounds might be a good idea.
Stars of the Game
- Khudobin. He withstood the barrage and didn’t blink.
- Rinne. Not his fault he can’t get goal support.
Tweets of the Night
Here is your Stars-Predators bingo board for this evening pic.twitter.com/oFiogVnWIK— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 27, 2018
Khudobin sounds like something you'd order at the donut shop— Kristopher Martel (@kmartel_sports) December 28, 2018