It didn’t take long for the Dallas Stars to get on the scoreboard as Esa Lindell found the back of the net on the second shot of the night, getting a quick one behind Juuse Saros and putting the Nashville Predators in a 0-1 hole.
The first six and a half minutes passed without the Predators registering a single shot on net. Eventually, Lindell put his team on the penalty kill as he was called for tripping Mikael Granlund. The Predators had their first chance on the power play and the opportunity to get some actual shots on net. Ryan Johansen was robbed at the net front by Anton Khudobin on the best chance of the power play.
Toward the end of the two minutes, Erik Haula was attacked after continuing to stab at the puck as it was loose in front of Khudobin, which started what we like to call “a bit of the rough stuff”. On the ensuing faceoff, Mathieu Olivier and Esa Lindell started to jaw at each other. On the next sequence, Olivier had words with Roope Hintz, as well. Things went back and forth with both teams taking several shots, none of which were very dangerous.
However, Yakov Trenin eventually found Colton Sissons, who broke out some slick stick work to make an opening for himself in front of Khudobin and put the Predators on the board and evened things up at 1-1.
And, while this was the score at the end of the first, it seemed as if some of the momentum had shifted from the Stars to the Predators.
The second period started without much offensive excitement. An odd shot here and there from the Stars...and one from the Predators in the first five minutes tells the tale you need to hear. Then, the Predators got pinned in their defensive zone for quite a bit longer than anyone cheering for the boys in gold would have preferred, but managed to hang on until Saros was able to freeze the puck and stop the clock. Soon after, Rocco Grimaldi drew a penalty as Radek Faksa was called for tripping. The Predators’ first power play unit came up with nothing to show for their efforts. The second unit managed to get one shot on net, but the penalty was killed. Alex Carrier was reported to have headed down the tunnel at this point. Soon after, Jason Robertson drove a powerful shot past Juuse Saros with an assist from Roope Hintz, once again giving the Stars the lead at 2-1.
Soon after, the Predators had their first penalty kill as Roman Josi headed to the penalty box for cross-checking. There wasn’t much to write about until Erik Haula had a shorthanded opportunity that was ruined by an incredibly well-placed post. The penalty was ultimately killed and we learned soon after that Alex Carrier was back on the ice. Mattias Ekholm ended the period with a penalty and headed to the penalty box. The Predators would have to start the third period with 1:47 of penalty kill time, or less.
It was less. The third period started with a very large, angry Swede in the penalty box and Alex Carrier not on the bench. The penalty had nearly expired when a shot deflected off of Fabbro’s skate and some part of Jamie Benn or his equipment and over Saros, putting the Stars even further ahead with a score of 3-1.
Although the Predators hadn’t taken a shot in ages, they were given a chance on the power play when interference was called against Blake Comeau. Honestly, though, they didn’t do much with it. That sentiment sums up much of the next ten minutes or so of play.
There were around six minutes left in the game when I started longing for the team that responded after the Lindell goal early. I wanted to see the team that made the Stars fight for every inch of ice they gained and pay for every shot they took. But where were they? For a team that has been, finally, starting to show an identity, it seemed that the identity they were forming had taken most of the night off. Three minutes and forty five seconds left and they had only taken 19 shots...what is that? Wayne Gretzky said that thing about missing 100% of the shots you never take, but that was meant to inspire you to take more shots, right? Not the other way around.
Oh, look, they pulled Saros. He deserves a rest; he’s been carrying the team for a while now. Oh, empty net goal. Well, 4-1 Stars. Saros is back in...as is the fourth line. They’re the only line that seems to be doing anything tonight. Interesting that the first line didn’t come in after the fourth. Is that a statement? Oh, fighting. Kunin and Dellandrea. So, that happened...with six seconds left. Solid showing by both. Benn and Ekholm looked like they wanted to go as well. Olivier was on the ice. Fight tried to break out, but they let time expire. Probably best for all. Game ends 4-1, Stars.
Golden Heroes of the Game
3rd Hero: Luke Kunin — for fighting. It helped vent my own frustration at the lack of shots in the last 40 minutes.
2nd Hero: Mathieu Olivier — for playing hard the entire game.
1st Hero: Colton Sissons — for scoring.