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Nashville Predators 5, Dallas Stars 3: Rebounding Along

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The Preds needed that one.

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

The Predators and the Stars met for the final time this regular season tonight. Both teams were looking to rebound after a dispiriting loss.

Just a few seconds in P.K. Subban and Jamie Benn exchanged unfriendly greetings, but no penalties were called. The Stars got a 3-on-1 early, although Ryan Ellis was able to keep Alexander Radulov from converting on it, and continued to have the better of the chances early.

About halfway through the first period, Ryan Hartman drew a penalty, Roman Polak went to the sin bin, and the Nashville Predators went on the power play. Although the Stars’ penalty kill has been rough lately, it was more than up to the task. Mattias Janmark and Radek Faksa combined for the best chance of the power play, but Pekka Rinne was up to the task.

Fortunately, seconds after the power play had ended, Brian Boyle got to the front of the net and knocked in a pass from Roman Josi. Seconds before that and 200 feet away, Boyle had knocked Tyler Seguin over; Seguin stayed down on the ice and was unable to get back to participate in the scoring play. The Stars fans were understandably displeased by the absence of call on the earlier play.

The Predators continued to pressure, though the Stars had their chances as well, for the rest of the period. With just over two minutes left, Boyle took a penalty, but the Predators were able to kill it off and went into first intermission with the lead. The Stars returned from intermission with a vengeance, getting an early flurry before the Predators re-located the offensive zone.

The Stars got a lucky break when a Josi shot knocked Hartman over and the Stars closed in on Rinne with numbers, but Rinne was up to the task again. Unfortunately, just moments after that, Jason Spezza got the Stars on the board for the first time in over two games.

After that, the game opened up considerably, with both teams playing some end-to-end hockey. Anton Khudobin made a spectacular save on Dan Hamhuis, which is a real sentence I just typed.

Kyle Turris and company got several chances throughout the second period—possibly not wanting to get traded to Ottawa?—but it was Rocco Grimaldi, on the third line, who got the next goal, with some great finish on a Hartman pass. Lots of players want to stay in this lineup.

Moments after that, Khudobin just barely managed to stop a lacrosse shot from Filip Forsberg. Forsberg got the shot on net this time; one of these days he might actually manage to score on that play.

Jamie Benn almost tied the game again at two, but Frederick Gaudreau managed to get a clear. Unfortunately, in the ensuing scramble Hamhuis was called for a penalty. The Preds’ penalty kill looked sharp early, but ultimately gave up a goal to Esa Lindell, who took his shot from approximately the parking lot, with just seconds left. The Stars took the lead on the next shift, as Seguin finished off an around-the-net passing play.

Fortunately, they didn’t hold the lead for long, as Forsberg scored (with an almost-normal hockey shot) on the very next shift. John Klingberg was practically lifting Forsberg off the ice, but the Preds forward was able to get enough control of the puck to put it past Klingberg. The last few shifts of the period were very boring, as no further goals were scored heading into intermission.

A moment into the third period, Jason Spezza took a whack at Josi’s hands and the Predators went back on the power play. Unsurprisingly, they were unable to convert, and the Stars cranked up the pressure afterward; Rinne was called upon to make a spectacular save. Moments after that, Miro Heiskanen was called for interference and Hartman was called for embellishment. The 4v4 play finished without any further goals, but not long after Josi skated circles through the Stars’ entire defense to give the Predators the lead back. Kyle Turris’s assist on the goal was his first point since returning from the IR.

The Stars pressed hard as the period drew toward a close, eventually pulling Khudobin with just under two minutes to go, and Josi scored his second of the game into the empty net. The Preds held on for the win.

Random Observations:

  • Craig Smith out, huh.
  • This is the Dallas Stars’ first-ever You Can Play night. Hopefully the Preds spoil it for them, but cool that they’re finally getting on board.
  • Oh boy, a power play.
  • FS-TN can’t figure out if it was a late hit by Boyle or a dive by Seguin.
  • Ten pushups for Bobby.
  • Boyle giveth and Boyle taketh away.
  • Or not, I guess.
  • I miss when the Preds were good at second periods.
  • In a shocking turn of events, the Stars have broken their scoreless streak, which means we have to listen to their stupid goal song. (I don’t care that it’s Pantera. It’s stupid.)
  • Also, what was Johansen doing at the blue line right before?
  • Rocco Grimaldi makes Ryan Ellis look tall.
  • Forsberg, who is not worried about getting traded or sent down to Milwaukee, is once again up to some nonsense out here. Even the AAC might’ve had to respect that one.
  • Rinne shoving Hamhuis off of him and out of the crease is a mood.
  • I have a headache and I don’t want to hear Pantera again tonight.
  • What did I JUST SAY
  • Fantastic response from Forsberg.
  • Also, if the Preds have finally solved Khudobin that’s big.
  • Twenty pushups for Bobby.
  • Rinne just made a save while falling over.
  • I hate the penalty+embellishment duo.
  • Roman Josi can skate.
  • Rinne’s lost his stick a lot tonight.

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Roman Josi: Listen, I would have given first star of the game to Gnash if he’d saved me from overtime. Josi, an actual roster player with two goals and an assist? Sure. Definitely.
  2. Filip Forsberg: That goal was incredibly key. This is the kind of response we need to be seeing from the Preds when they give up a goal.
  3. Ryan Ellis: Quietly had three points of his own.

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