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Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 1 (OT): Smith’s Overtime Tally Ties the Series

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Sixty minutes wasn’t enough to find a winner in Game 2. The Preds only needed five more to even the series.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The second line of the Nashville Predators struck when they most needed a goal.

Craig Smith scored exactly five minutes into overtime to give the Preds a 2-1 victory over Dallas to even the Western Conference quarterfinal series at one game each.

Smith’s shot was Nashville’s 43rd against Ben Bishop and the first career playoff overtime goal that Smith had scored or that Bishop had allowed.

The series shifts to Dallas on Monday.

Mats Zuccarello took a slashing penalty at 4:03 of the first, but Nashville’s power play struggles continued.

Dallas went to the power play at the 7:29 mark as Austin Watson was called for roughing, but Nashville killed it off with a little help from Viktor Arvidsson, who took on four Stars in the Dallas end.

However, it wasn’t long before the Predators were back on the penalty kill after Mattias Ekholm was sent off for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. Nashville killed off all four minutes and surged back toward the Stars’ net, with Calle Järnkrok drawing a penalty after Roman Polak shoved him into the Dallas goal.

During the power play, roughing minors were given to Mikael Granlund and Blake Comeau after a scuffle in the crease next to Ben Bishop. After an attempted tip-in from Craig Smith, the rest of the man advantage ticked away.

Early in the second period, a turnover by Ekholm allowed Tyler Seguin to find Jamie Benn in front for a tip-in to give the Stars the game’s first goal.

After a scary collision that sent Mattias Janmark to the Dallas dressing room, Austin Watson found Rocco Grimaldi from behind the net to tie the game at the 3:56 mark of the second period.

Craig Smith took a roughing penalty at 6:35 of the third, but the Preds’ penalty kill bailed him out.

The rest of the third period failed to settle anything, sending the game to overtime.

Nashville began the extra session with some pressure in the Dallas end, but Bishop held the fort through the initial flurry before Smith ended things at the 5:00 mark.

Random Observations

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I like pre-7:00 starts. When you can cover a game and still have time to make plans afterwards, that makes for a good day. Now watch this thing to multiple overtimes and prove me wrong.
  • No Brian Boyle (illness) tonight. Rocco Grimaldi is in.
  • Lighted beads tonight. As if there isn’t enough flashing going on...
  • Vince Gill was a solid anthem choice, but what was he doing with his phone?
  • Again, a good start, but this has to be the norm, not the exception.
  • Early power play. Let’s see.
  • Well, Wayne Simmonds catches a Roman Josi rocket off his leg and hobbles to the bench.
  • Pekka Rinne having some trouble behind the net and the Preds are darn lucky it’s still scoreless.
  • Viktor Arvidsson trying to kill a penalty all by himself and doing a pretty good job of it.
  • New book idea: Pekka Rinne, Adventures in Puckhandling.
  • Dallas gets a 3-on-1 break after Arvidsson gets a great chance in front, but good backchecking prevents a scoring chance.
  • That was an eventful first period for a scoreless 20 minutes.
  • A really, really bad turnover by Ekholm and it winds up in the back of the net.
  • Not good for Mattias Janmark. That looked bad.
  • ROCCO!
  • I really can’t remember Ekholm being this bad in a game before.
  • Preds’ penalty kill has been huge to this point. Kinda can’t lean on it over the final 30 minutes, though.
  • Pretty good form on that takeout slide attempt by Austin Watson after his stick broke.
  • Wasn’t sure we’d see Simmonds back, but he’s taking a warmup lap while play is stopped.
  • And then he goes right back down the tunnel.
  • Forsberg trying it from Ovechkin’s office is a good idea. Maybe a little more from there, please.
  • Bad penalty from Roman Josi.
  • Janmark is back on the ice for Dallas and I have no earthly idea how.
  • Line blender time! Grimaldi with Forsberg and Jarnkrok for the moment.
  • Well, win a period, win a game. That’s all that matters now.
  • I wonder if the refs have already used their allotment of penalties in the first two periods and are going to swallow the whistles in the third.
  • We’re going to have 54 stoppages this period, aren’t we?
  • Thank the post, Rinne.
  • Not the best time to lose your cool. Craig Smith retaliates and gets caught even though Blake Comeau’s cross-check was uncalled.
  • Craig Smith might be the worst passer ever. All the hard work Grimaldi did to beat the icing wiped out by a pass 6 feet behind the target.
  • And to overtime we go.
  • Gotta wonder if Peter Laviolette will send the Bonino unit out against Seguin’s line in OT. That’s not been a good match for the Preds so far.
  • That got answered quickly, and yep. Sticking with it.
  • That’s huge for Craig Smith and the second line.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Craig Smith. Big goal for him and the second line to even the series.
  2. Penalty kill. The difference in this game.
  3. Grimaldi. Made the best of his chance in the lineup, and he needs to stay there.

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