Over the past 13 games the Dallas Stars (39-29-11) are 7-6-1. During this stretch, there has been a lot of highs and arguably just as many lows. Sitting down to watch the Stars defeat the Nashville Predators (35-32-12) on Tuesday night at the AAC, it certainly seemed like a game that summed up their entire season, as well as the 13 game stretch. They looked great in the first period jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to an Alex Goligoski wrister, gave up the lead and got dominated in the second frame, scrambled around in the third period to secure a point, then won with dramatic flash in a four round shootout. Dallas received regulation goals from Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn while Tyler Seguin and Vernon Fiddler scored in the shootout to help the Stars win 3-2.
Many fans had questions regarding how this team was going to respond tonight after blowing a 2-0 lead in Florida on Sunday evening. All questions and concerns were answered on the very first shift as the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Valeri Nichuskin came out with energy. Their first shift of the night lasted almost an entire minute and they generated multiple opportunities to score the first goal of the game. Pekka Rinne got the start between the pipes for the Predators and turned aside all the great Stars opportunities on the first shift of the game. It did not take long for the Stars to eventually beat the big Finnish goaltender as defenceman Alex Goligoski scored his 6th goal of the season just 2:23 into the first period. The Stars would continue to carry the play throughout the first period and ended up with an 11-8 shot advantage and 1-0 lead.
There is something about the Dallas Stars as of the last few games that have you wondering why they hate the second period so much. After dominating Carolina in the first period they squandered 3 goals in the second on Thursday, Tampa Bay scored 2 unanswered on Saturday, and then Florida tied the game on Sunday with 2 unanswered goals as well. Then tonight, the Dallas Stars did it again as they gave up another lead in the middle frame en route to being grossly outplayed. The Predators scored their first goal of the game just 1:22 into the second. Gabriel Bourque scored on a one-timer from one knee in the slot after being fed from behind the net by Craig Smith. It was Bourque’s 8th goal of the season. The Predators continued to carry the play in the period fueled by the Stars inability to utilize their neutral zone speed. The genesis of their ineffective play was largely attributed to their numerous turnovers just before the attacking or defending blue lines. The turnovers did not allow any sort of flow to their attacks and the Predators were able to sit back and defend as they had planned. The only real good opportunity the Stars mustered in the second period was an important one. After Nichuskin had swung down low in the zone, to help out defenceman Brendan Dillon, he then turned and fired a stretch pass to Benn at centre ice. Benn proceeded to use his speed and create a 2 on 1 with Seguin. After looking at Seguin the entire way down the ice, Benn decided to put the puck on the net. The shot seemed to surprise Rinne and snuck between his pads for a 2-1 Dallas lead. The goal was Benn’s 34th of the season from Nichuskin and Dillon at 8:16. Kari Lehtonen then held the Stars fort for the remainder of the period and helped them take a 2-1 lead to the intermission. The shots in the period favoured Nashville 15-6.
As the third period began, Stars fans felt real good about what was going on. They had just received news that the Phoenix Coyotes had lost in overtime and their own team was leading 2-1 with only 20 minutes left. This optimism soon turned to worry and concern as the Stars continued to turn pucks over at the blue lines. The worry and concern then turned to fear as Gabriel Bourque scored his second goal of the game to knot the game 2-2. Bourque’s 2nd of the night, 9th of the season, was a carbon copy of his first goal. After Dillon turned the puck over deep in the zone, Bourque snapped home a one-timer off a pass from behind the net by Paul Gaustad. The goal was scored at 10:24 of the third period. The Stars seemed to be retreating into a shell of defensive play without much counterattack until defenceman Shea Weber flipped the puck over the glass. Weber was sent to the box for a 2 minute delay of game penalty. Only 22 seconds after Weber’s penalty, Viktor Bartley was called for holding. The Stars now had a 5 on 3 powerplay for 1:38. Unfortuanetely, the powerplay failed to cash in on a couple great opportunities. Regulation time would then end in a 2-2 tie and both teams headed off to overtime.
Overtime was very uneventful for both sides. The best chance of the extra frame came when Stars forward Colton Sceviour turned a puck over in his own end. Predators defenceman Mattias Ekholm stepped up, took the puck, and released a cannon from between the circles. Luckily, Kari Lehtonen was able to get just enough of his glove on the shot and the rebound was cleared to safety. The teams would then head to a shootout.
Dallas elected to allow Nashville to shoot first.
1. Calle Jankrok (Nashville)- Forehand, backhand, stopped by the blocker of Lehtonen- NO GOAL
2. Jordie Benn (Dallas) – Lost the puck before getting a shot on net – NO GOAL
3. Craig Smith (Nashville) -Skated in with speed, stopped up and fired a shot that Lehtonen gloved- NO GOAL
4. Jamie Benn (Dallas)- Swung in wide to the left of Rinne and tried to sneak the puck five-hole –NO GOAL
5. Roman Josi (Nashville) –Backhand, forehand, snuck the puck between Lehtonen’s legs –GOAL
6. Vernon Fiddler (Dallas)- Skated in, stumbled to the ice, got back up and scored on the forehand – GOAL
7. Matt Cullen- Skated in and tried to score five-hole on Lehtonen- NO GOAL
8. Tyler Seguin (Dallas)- Skated in and roofed a wrist shot high glove –GOAL
Notes and Observations
-Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen started his 10th consecutive game against Nashville tonight.
-Dallas’ powerplay is now 1 for 23 in their last six games.
-Dallas moved a full two points ahead of Phoenix for the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference
-Ray Whitney did not play and continues to be listed as day-to-day.
-Dallas takes on Columbus Wednesday night at the AAC. Game time is 730pm CST.