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Nashville Predators 0, Dallas Stars 7: Special teams sink Preds in first road game

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What a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening, eh.

Nashville Predators v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tonight’s recap, thanks to technical and non-technical difficulties, is brought to you by committee. The Preds’ gameplay...well, about the only action by committee the Nashville Predators managed last night was a parade to the penalty box.

The First Period

Out of the gate, it appeared the Preds had packed their momentum and new mental toughness for the trip to Dallas. All eyes were on the second line of Duchene, Kunin, and the finally returning Granlund. Duchene has been on the verge of breaking out and hopes were high that being reunited with Granny (insert Peaches and Herb “Reunited” here) may do the trick. This was also the first chance for Yakov Trenin to slide into the line up from the taxi squad, adding his size and physicality to a hearty fourth line alongside Richardson and Olivier.

Overall, the Predators controlled the game for the first half of the period. While Dallas played their usual physical game, the Predators did a solid job of swarming the net and playing a mostly clean game to start.

The one weak spot in the first period was, sad to say, the play of Matt Benning. Benning, who has been a reassuring presence on the ice in the new third defensive pairing, had moments of sloppy play and a slashing penalty with 8:20 remaining in the first. While the PK held up this time, there was a sinking feeling that time in the sin bin could be a potential problem tonight. (That’s called “foreshadowing”, friends.)

The Second Period

If only hockey games could be one period long.

Just a few moments into the second period, Cousins made his way to the penalty box. Cousins was called for “holding the stick”, and the Stars were ready to test Nashville’s penalty kill once again. Apparently Cousins looked like he was having a good time in the box, as he was shortly joined by Richardson, and the Stars had a 5 on 3. Pavelski tapped the puck past Saros for the first score.

Ugh.

With more power play time remaining compliments of Richardson, the Stars struck again as Radulov added another goal. 0-2.

Fudge.

A collision between Viktor Arvidsson and Jamie Benn sent Benn to the dressing room, though he later returned. Shortly after, the Stars scored their third goal on their third power play of the period, putting the Predators’ penalty kill for the game at a crisp 25% success rate.

Wait, did I say “crisp”?

The Predators had a chance to start their comeback on a Stars penalty, but Khudobin smothered the few on net chances.

Nearly halfway through the second period, Benning was called for a trip. Stomachs all around Nashville sank—as did the Predators’ PK statistics. Gurianov tapped in a deflection to put the Stars up by 3.

The Predators tried again to score on a power play at 8:15 remaining for a “holding the stick” call on the Stars. For a brief second (oh, so brief!) it looked like Josi might have scored, but alas, it was imaginary, just like Predator fans’ hopes for the evening.

After a tie up behind the net, Saros watched one go by on a wonky bounce by Radulov. 4-0.

But wait. There’s more.

What could possibly add insult to injury when it comes to this second period lasting what can only be dog years? A Dallas hooking penalty that turned into a shorthanded goal.

Lindell’s goal made it 5-0 Dallas.

The period ended with Olivier and his second-only-to-Forsberg mustache heading to the penalty box for cross checking. Shoot me now.

The Third Period

Agony, thy name is Dallas. The Predators continued to add to the growing list of “inches away from a goal” chances, but all to no avail. Dallas struck again thanks to a Joe Pavelski deflection goal, and I got the pleasure of watching the end of a 6-0 game, an unenviable position. I’ll keep this section brief because honestly, nothing of note happened during the entire first half of the third besides the above. The team looked pretty ready to go home, something I totally get.

The Preds got another power play opportunity. They failed to score. Everybody drink! Actually please don’t; we can’t be responsible for the deaths of several Tennesseans this year by making that a thing. This game really sucks, folks.

The Preds took another penalty and gave up another goal. I’m having flashbacks to the Avalanche game last year, and that isn’t exactly how I’d like to spend my Friday night. A quick reminder that I’m having to watch this stone-cold sober because I’m not of age. Somebody send help ASAP.

Would you look at that, another Preds penalty. I swear if the Stars score another goal I might just keel over and take a nap. Watching this team tonight has been exhausting. Oh hey, they killed the penalty, so that’s something, I guess. Dallas looks just as bored as I feel, which is pretty telling. John Klingberg just wants to take a nap. Mercifully, the game ends and I don’t have to watch anymore.

Three Big Things

  1. The special teams were an absolute tragedy tonight, hence the title of this article. Were some of the calls terrible? Yes. Still, Nashville went 0/5 on the powerplay and 3/8 on the penalty kill against a team that hadn’t played a game all year. The Stars didn’t even have half of their damn roster healthy, yet this was the display from the Preds tonight. Some of the goals were lucky tips, yada yada, if I have to watch one more year of a terrible power play I might rip my hair out. The Preds have too much talent to be failing this colossally.
  2. Speaking of the power play, get Viktor Arvidsson the hell off of the first unit. The Predators continue to use him as a shooting option when he’s purely a rush creator and it’s obvious that he isn’t comfortable lining up one timers in that position. Put Ryan Ellis or, I dunno, Eeli Tolvanen in that spot and you’re only improving. Please, I can only see him mishandle a pass or hesitate to shoot so many times.
  3. Let’s not panic too badly here. A lot of these goals weren't replicable and the Predators played okay at 5v5. It’s a frustrating, borderline-infuriating loss, but it’s one game and there’s no need to be hyperbolic. Look at me, being the voice of reason for once!

Sad Times Soundtrack

Painful losses call for appropriate tracks. The Predators were giant losers tonight, therefore this is my pick. See y’all for the next game. Go Preds.