Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 3: Third period woes continue

Once again, the Preds’ inability to challenge late cost them a game.

The Nashville Predators returned from the Christmas break to face the Dallas Stars in an attempt to start recovering their position in the Central.

Jamie Benn opened the scoring early, giving Dallas the 1-0 lead just 1:19 in after a giveaway by Tommy Novak. Instead of mounting a recovery, the Preds proceeded to get backed into their own end, giving up shot after shot to the Stars. Mattias Ekholm and Mark Jankowski combined for a chance for the Preds, but that and a late chance from Josi were about it for the period.

With just over five minutes to go in the first period, Dante Fabbro lifted the puck over the glass and the Preds’ penalty kill had to go to work against the Stars’ excellent power play. Some hard work from the penalty killers and Juuse Saros kept the deficit to one, but almost immediately after the teams returned to even strength Colton Sissons also cleared the puck over the glass.

The Preds got that penalty killed off and even got a very late chance of their own on the power play when Sissons drew a penalty from Jani Hääkenpää, but the carryover into the second period was quickly neutralized when Novak was called for tripping against Miro Heiskanen. Still, it ended up working out for the Preds, as Filip Forsberg scored seconds later in the 4-on-4 to tie the game.

They needed that goal, as Roope Hintz did a great job of tipping a shot on the Stars’ ensuing power play to restore the Stars’ one-goal lead. Radek Faksa then took a holding penalty, but the Stars were able to kill it off easily. They were less able to kill off Roman Josi’s holding penalty, where Yakov Trenin made a great shorthanded effort to tie the game again, 2-2.

Nashville rallied briefly, and managed to get another power play, but the power play went nowhere and the Stars pushed back again. A late Preds rally ended with an even later Filip Forsberg slashing penalty, and it was the Stars’ turn to head into intermission with most of a power play remaining.

The Preds were able to kill the power play, but not to generate any sustained momentum. A high, late hit from Jeremy Lauzon on Tyler Seguin put them shorthanded again with under six minutes left in the third, despite Lauzon’s best attempts to goad a Stars player into taking a coincidental minor after his initial hit. Tanner Jeannot had a great shorthanded chance to start the penalty kill, and Saros a huge save to follow it up, and the Preds were able to kill the penalty.

However, with under a minute left in regulation, Joe Pavelski retrieved an unsecured puck in front of Saros and Hintz was able to put it past him to give the Stars the lead again. Although the Preds pulled Saros, they were unable to tie it again.