Nashville Predators 3, Dallas Stars 2: Rinne shines as Nashville takes the series lead

Rinne stole that one. Wow.

After splitting the first two games of their first-round series with the Stars, the Nashville Predators rode into Dallas with the intent of regaining home ice advantage and thus the upper hand in the series. Nashville was still missing Brian Boyle, and Wayne Simmonds was out with a “lower body” injury, so Rocco Grimaldi and Miikka Salomaki took their places in the lineup. Pekka Rinne got the start in goal for Nashville, and the Predators defeated Dallas, 3-2.

From the opening whistle, the physicality that this game would radiate was obvious. Jamie Benn had an early hit on Calle Jarnkrok that got the crowd out of their seats, and they never sat back down for the rest of the first period. Both teams had power plays, but Nashville successfully killed off their penalty, and it should be all but assumed that the Preds’ poor power play didn’t score. Dallas seemed to have a high-danger shot every five seconds for the final five minutes of the period, but Rinne stood on his head and kept the score sheet at 0-0 after one period.

The second period was much more successful for the Predators. Early on, Rocco Grimaldi took a shot that seemed intended to force a rebound off of Ben Bishop. However, Bishop didn’t stop the puck, so Grimaldi scored to open up the score sheet. Shortly after, Viktor Arvidsson and Nick Bonino were both sent to the penalty box, so Nashville had to kill a 5-on-3 opportunity that lasted over 90 seconds. However, Pekka Rinne came up big for the Preds, and kept Dallas off the board.

Later in the period, Nick Bonino found Filip Forsberg deep in Stars territory, and Forsberg used his dangles to get by Bishop and put the Predators up by 2 for the first time in the series. However, this lead would not last long. Mats Zuccarello managed to get behind the Predators defenders, so when he received a pass there was no one between him and Rinne. Zuccarello beat Rinne, and Dallas got back within one goal. That would be the final scoring play of the period, and Nashville would enter the third period with a 2-1 lead.

After killing off an early power play for the Stars, Nashville had one period to fend off the Stars and secure a game three victory. This plan was complicated at the 12 minute mark, when Jamie Benn delivered a pass to a net-front Tyler Seguin, who then tied the game at three. However, the tie would not last for long, as Mikael Granlund sent in a shot that bounced off of Bishop and into the goal, giving Nashville a 3-2 lead. Dallas emptied their net at the end of the game in a last-chance effort, but the defense (and goaltending!) held strong and Nashville secured the win. The win gives the Predators a 2-1 series lead, and the chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead before heading back to Music City.

Random Observations

  • Early roughing penalty on Radulov. I wish I had enough hope in the power play unit to get excited about this, but I don’t.
  • Power play over. We may never score on a man advantage again.
  • We’re five minutes in, and I’d already put the over/under for fight totals on this game at 2 and a half. Lots of bodies being thrown around, and the Dallas crowd is feeling it.
  • Forsberg gets called on a shaky, shaky hooking call, and Nashville goes on the penalty kill.
  • A LOT of high-danger chances for Dallas late in the first, and the Preds can’t seem to figure out how to stop them. Rinne has stood tall, but you can’t expect him to keep this up for another 40 minutes.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is in the crowd! I really wish he could’ve sung the anthem for Dallas, but it’s still cool to see him.
  • ROCCOOOOO. Not quite sure how that got past Bishop, but no complaints here. 1-0 Preds.
  • Arvidsson gets called for interference, and Bonino gets called for tripping. 5-on-3 opportunity for Dallas.
  • Pekka Rinne, oh my word.
  • A touchdown pass from Bonino to Forsberg, and Prince Filip finishes it in front of the net. 2-0 Preds.
  • Mats Zuccarello gets open behind Nashville’s defense and puts the puck home past Rinne. 2-1.
  • Power play opportunity to start the period for Dallas. Momentum is on their side, so a stop here is vital.
  • Big penalty kill for Nashville.
  • Benn finds Tyler Seguin in front of the net, and the game is tied. 2-2.
  • Granlund! Another weird goal that appears to have gone off of Bishop’s blocker, but a goal’s a goal. 3-2 Preds.
  • Empty net for Dallas.
  • Nashville couldn’t get out of their own zone for the entire final minute, but they get the job done. 3-2 win, 2-1 series lead./

OTF’s Stars of the Game

  1. Pekka Rinne - Stood on his head through multiple sieges in the Nashville zone, and kept Nashville afloat.
  2. Filip Forsberg - Scored the goal of the postseason (so far), and momentarily gave Nashville the lead.
  3. Mikael Granlund - Game winning goal.

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