Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 1: Preds get dramatic comeback win
Juuse Saros was great, and the team played well in front of him, for a sorely-needed W.
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars faced off tonight at the Tire Barn, both fighting foir position in the Central Division standings.
The Preds got out to a good start, getting both the zone time and the pressure they needed but not converting. They had a fantastic chance when Mikael Granlund intercepted a clearing attempt and Stars goalie Jake Oettinger ended up way out of his net, but Esa Lindell managed a sliding block to keep Luke Kunin from tapping Granlund’s pass into the empty net.
Juuse Saros’s workload was lighter than Oettinger’s, but he stayed alert and responded well when tested. The first penalty of the game, however, was taken when Kunin got his stick into Roope Hintz’s face during a netfront battle with under two minutes remaining in the period. While Kunin and the Preds’ broadcast team weren’t thrilled with how easily Hintz went down, it’s worth noting he wouldn’t have had the opportunity if he hadn’t taken what was ultimately called as a cross-check in the first place.
While the Preds got an early clear, the Stars came back on the attack. Bowness’s decision to pull Oettinger with two seconds left in the period and an OZ faceoff was an interesting one, but didn’t pay off, and the teams went to intermission. The Stars got some early pushback after their power play ended, but then committed a penalty, as Radek Faksa hooked Ryan Johansen.
The Preds’ power play started off strong, but once the Stars got control it fizzled out. They got another chance moments later, again against the run of play, but this time there wasn’t much going on the power play at all. After the teams returned to even strength, the Preds got a brief offensive flurry going, before the game pretty much stalled out for the rest of the second.
32 seconds into the third period, John Klingberg broke the tie with a long shot through traffic that bounced off Eeli Tolvanen and into the goal. Several Preds players, especially Yakov Trenin, tried to retaliate over the next few minutes. While they struggled to get shots on net, the Preds continued to barrage the Stars’ defense with attempts as the second period wound on.
With 8:16 remaining in the second, Jamie Benn boarded Filip Forsberg, but Mattias Ekholm immediately went after Benn, neutralizing the power play. Forsberg, fortunately, got up all right, but the crowd was still furious, and the four-on-four occurred to the clearly-audible chanting of “ref, you suck!” from the home crowd.
Saros made a colossal save on a great shot by Michael Raffl at one end of the ice, and then Ryan Johansen scored at the other to tie the game at 1. The teams returned to five a side, with the Bridgestone crowd sounding louder than usual on the goalie chant.
With under two minutes left in the period, Roman Josi picked up a pass from his defense partner and put it past Oettinger, giving the Preds their first lead of the game. The Stars pulled their goalie and piled on the pressure, firing shot after shot, but Juuse Saros kept the door shut and the Preds squeaked out with a last-minute regulation win.
Good play from the team throughout the game got well-deserved results, and Benn’s dangerous hit blew up spectacularly in his team’s face. It’s always nice to see these kinds of things happen.