Even though Mark Fistric’s hit on Shea Weber, that left the Nashville captain out of action for four games, was completely and totally legal, it seems the Predators felt the need to exact revenge. On Fistric’s first shift, Predator Jordin Tootoo took matters into his hands and began the game with a spirited bout between the two that ended with Tootoo tackling Fistric to the ice. Not bothered with the Predators silly gripes, Mike Ribeiro scored his seventh of the year on a silky deke to give the Stars a quick 1-0 lead less than three minutes later. The Predators answered four minutes later, getting the equalizer from Gabriel Bourque. The Stars and Preds fought back and forth for the rest of the period before Ribeiro netted his second goal of the game with just 39 seconds remaining in the period to give the Stars the 2-1 lead heading into the middle frame. The Stars began the second period with a power play, but of course they could not generate any sustained attack. Jamie Benn followed up the powerless play with an easy goal off a terrible Predators turn over to give the Stars a 3-1 lead. The Stars followed that up with a penalty of their own, but Steve Ott had a break away chance before being dragged down and was given a penalty shot. It was Ott’s first career penalty shot, but the shot hit the post and the score remained 3-1. The third period was a bit feisty, with the Stars getting a couple power play opportunities. The Stars couldn’t convert, but Adam Burish tipped a rocket from Tom Wandell to give the Stars a commanding 4-1 lead with seven minutes left to play. That would be enough to give the Stars the victory.
What It Means:
The Stars could not afford another loss after winning just one of their previous four games, and the team answered the challenge. The convincing win over Nashville was the second such win against the Predators this year, after a 6-3 thumping they gave them at home on November 23rd. Pekka Rinne can’t seem to stay on his game against Dallas, and the Stars are reaping the benefits. Gulutzan moved around the lines to give more offensive depth and it worked. Ribeiro had his first multi-goal game, and Jamie Benn had yet another multi-point game, putting up a goal and an assist. The Stars looked like the cohesive unit they want to be and they’ll need to continue to play this type of game, with some needed improvements. Other miscellaneous game notes:
- Jordie Benn, in his second NHL game, played just 7:07 of the game, the lowest of all defenseman, and the second lowest on the team. This may be just a product of the decision to play seven defensemen, because Jordie had an even +/- and didn’t make any serious mistakes. It remains to be seen if he’ll be the scratch over Adam Pardy in the future, or if he’ll be sent back to the AHL.
- Mike Ribeiro took a shot from Trevor Daley to the face at the end of the second period, and while it looked serious, Mike managed to strap on a face mask and get back into the game a few minutes into the third.
- The Stars power play struggles continued. They went 0/4 tonight, but at least generated chances. It’s only a matter of time before pucks start going in if they continue to throw shots at the net. The good news on the special teams front is that the penalty kill shut down the Predators tonight, going 3/3, and 8/8 over the last four games.
The Stars return home for the weekend to face the struggling Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon. The Oilers have just learned they will be without young star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for 3-4 weeks from a shoulder injury, and they’re hot start is slowly becoming worth nothing as they continue to lose. Of course the Stars learned the hard way that a team’s record doesn’t matter when they played Columbus, the Oilers are still full of talent and are still dangerous when they’re on their game.
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