What Happened: The first half or so of the first period was rather uneventful, each team came close to scoring, but the shot count was low, and neither team had a power play opportunity. Then, the Stars decided turn on the jets. Over the next three minutes of play, the Stars would put three goals on the board. The goals came from Vernon Fiddler, Loui Eriksson, and Steve Ott. The flurry of scoring chased Vezina-finalist and All-Star goaltender Pekka Rinne from the net, and gave the Stars a commanding lead. The Stars put themselves in penalty trouble near the end of the frame, getting two penalties from Eriksson and Trevor Daley, managing to kill the Eriksson minor and taking the Daley minor in the second period. The Stars killed that penalty, but the Predators brought the pressure, and Dallas lost focus. The Preds rang off two goals in three minutes to cut the lead to 3-2. Convinced that this would not be a repeat of the Anaheim game, where the Stars gave up a 3 goal lead, Mike Ribeiro answered back with six minutes left in the middle frame to give the Stars a 4-2 lead. Nashville once again would not give up, and a goal from David Legwand put the Predators back within one at the start of the third period. But just like Ribeiro, Jamie Benn would have none of it, and answered back just 30 seconds later to give the Stars another two goal lead. Nashville was finally beaten into submission, and Michael Ryder added an empty netter for the sixth and final Stars goal of the night, giving the team a 6-3 victory.
What It Means: Hot start, hot finish. That makes three games in a row where the Stars started quick, but tonight was the only game where they consistently kept up the pressure and wouldn’t give the Predators a chance to keep any sort of momentum. The penalty kill continued the trend of not performing up to par, giving the Predators two power play goals, and the Stars power play went 0/3. Adding more fuel to the special teams problem that’s plagued the Stars in one form or another all season, but the team has managed to overcome the issue and take the game. Gulutzan has to get more consistency out of his special teams units. Richard Bachman, in his seventh straight start, faced a whopping 37 shots, stopping all but three. Another solid showing from the rookie and another pile of dirt added to Andrew Raycroft’s future as a Dallas Star. The Stars end the holiday home stand with a 2-1 record, picking up two wins against Western Conference opponents, with the only loss coming against the Flyers on Wednesday night.
What’s Next: The Stars, like the rest of the NHL, have the weekend off for Christmas, but the team hits the road and returns to action next Monday, December 26th to face the resurgent Ken Hitchcock-led St. Louis Blues. The Blues are 6-2-2 in their last 10, and have looked impressive after Hitchcock took over coaching duties from Davis Payne. The Blues are a spectacular 13-3-1 at home, so Dallas has their work cut out for them.