Dallas Stars 5, Nashville Predators 1: Central Leaders Prove Worthy

The Dallas Stars showed the Predators why they are worthy of the Central Division crown, handing the Preds a 5-1 defeat.

The Predators closed out a disappointing 2015 calendar year of hockey with an equally disappointing 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Things looked competitive through almost 2 periods, but the Predators eventually fell victim to similar dangers in previous games: no offensive presence in the middle of the ice, not enough quality scoring chances from the outside, and poor defensive turnovers that left Rinne out to dry. The Stars simply owned the second half of this game and showed why they are clearly the powerhouse of the Central Division.

Jamie Benn, Mattias Janmark, Patrick Eaves, and Tyler Seguin (x2) all scored for the Stars. Craig Smith scored the lone goal for the Predators.

With 2015 behind them, the Predators will be asked many questions in 2016. Do they have any new answers? Or will they continue rolling out the same tired responses to legit criticisms of how this team is built?

Random Observations

  • Neither team with a huge advantage in the first 10 minutes, though the Stars have more shots on the board. The Predators seem focused on getting as many shots at Niemi as possible, but there's not a lot of room in the attacking zone. Preds defenders have contained the Stars weapons so far, but it's early.
  • Well, the first power-play looked pretty stinkin' bad. No shots and spent most of the 2:00 in the defensive and neutral zones. Just can't do that. Can't waste opportunities against a high-scoring team.
  • Not a terrible 1st period. Scoreless, but the Preds did some good things. The fore-check knocked the Stars off balance a bit and the defense did a great job of disrupting a well-oiled scoring machine. Rinne made a couple challenging saves, as did Niemi. Even-stevens so far.
  • More of the same in the 2nd. Both teams seem content to just shut down the opponent's scoring chances, clearing out the middle of the ice.
  • A sick pass by Ribeiro puts Craig Smith right in front, who puts the Preds up 1-0! Ribs faked the shot, dished it to Smith who had snuck in behind the defense, who then backhanded a beautiful goal by Niemi. Nice first goal for the Preds.
  • Annnd then a bad turnover at the blue-line allows Jamie Benn to skate in casually and roof one by Rinne. Defense let Pekka down on that one. Can't just let Benn stroll around in the Preds defensive zone for long periods of time.
  • More bad defensive play leads to another goal. Preds can't clear the puck after an odd-man rush and the Stars pinch up from the blue-line. Jason Spezza finds Mattias Janmark wide open to Rinne's right side and he shoots the puck just under the crossbar. Stars lead 2-1.
  • Dallas owned the final 7-8 minutes of the 2nd after Nashville took a 1-0 lead. You can tell a lot about a team by how they respond to getting scored on. This Stars team looks legit.
  • More legit-ness in the 3rd period. Patrick Eaves receives a nice pass from Spezza right in front and scores. It might be time to put a big ole fat bow on 2015 for the Predators.
  • Rinne almost made the save of the year for the Predators. He stopped Seguin twice on a breakaway, the second of which required a diving glove save on the goal line. However the refs ruled that the puck crossed the goal line while in the glove. No replays on the TV broadcast showed anything of the sort, but I guess the refs had some Mr. Gadget cameras hidden inside Rinne's glove. Not sure how you can call that a goal, but it probably wouldn't have mattered. It's 4-1 now.
  • Very little to be excited about the rest of the way in this one. Nashville continues to flail about on the boards, struggling to coax even a modest shot attempt. Dallas has the game in the bag and looks stronger than ever.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Craig Smith: nice goal to put the Preds up in the 2nd. Remember, the Preds did have a lead in this game.
  • Seguin/Benn/Sharp: probably the best line in hockey... definitely the best line in hockey.
  • Mikka Salomaki: he was buzzing around tonight. Brought some speed, creativity, and punch (he had 6 hits) to an otherwise crappy game. /

Tweets of the Night

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