The Dallas Stars scrapped together an emotional win and found a way to keep their playoff hopes alive for at least one day longer. The Stars did this by topping the Nashville Predators 4-3 in a crazy overtime finish that ended with Cody Eakin scoring the game winner on a penalty shot. Jhonas Enroth earned his first win as the starter as a Star, making 33 of 36 saves. Post game wrap-up is below.
The first period was all Nashville to begin with. After thrashing the Dallas Stars early with high octane defense and full caliber offense, the Predators led the shot total 4-0 through the first five minutes. A few physical plays and good chances sprouted for both teams, but neither could crack the opposing goalie. That is until 10:01 remained in the first period, and the Predators entered the zone with a fury. Seth Jones gave it off to Mattias Ekholm, who took it to the left side of Jhonas Enroth’s net. As the Stars defense collapsed, Ekholm sent a pass to the late man Filip Forsberg, who sent it sailing into a wide open net on the right side, taking the 1-0 advantage for the Predators. With 3:00 to go, Jordie Benn took a holding minor against Taylor Beck and headed to the box, but the Stars killed it off. Enroth looked good through the first, while Pekka Rinne remained perfect as always, stopping multiple high quality chances from the Stars offensive attack. Shot totals were 9-6 in favor of the Predators.
The Dallas Stars opened up the second period the same way they start most periods, giving Nashville plenty of opportunities. This trend drug on until the Stars found a lucky hole and cracked it. Colton Sceviour put a shot on Rinne with 15:51 left, and the shot rebounded perfectly for Travis Moen to spin around and sink the wrist shot. It was Moen’s second consecutive game with a goal for the first time since October 29th, 2010 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. After this, Nashville turned up the heat, but nothing too hot for Jhonas Enroth, who continued to stand tall. Ryan Garbutt was called on a fluky tripping minor with 6:48 left in the period, but the Stars killed it off. After the second period, the Stars had tied it up while being outshot 23-12.
The third period, where the Stars love to cough up leads, took a bit of a different turn in favor of Dallas. At the 2:24 mark, Trevor Daley was tripped by Calle Jarnkrok, leading to the Stars first power play of the game. Just :59 seconds later, Tyler Seguin sent a lethal slapper past Rinne’s glove to grab the Stars their first lead of the game. The assists were credited to John Klingberg and Patrick Eaves. But oddly enough, the Stars did not let up. They continued to pursue and push the offensive cause, and with 12:32 remaining, Colton Sceviour slid a slow roller into an open Nashville net past a confused Rinne. Sceviour’s eight goal of the year was assisted by Travis Moen and Alex Goligoski. Here is where the letup occurred. The Stars sank back into their own zone and Nashville began the drive. With 9:14 left, a wide open Ryan Ellis sent one sailing past Enroth to cut the deficit to one. They refused to let up and continued to ravage the cowering Stars. After a few long shifts in the offensive zone, the Predators decided to pull Rinne. It was not long after before James Neal received a slick pass from Mike Ribiero and cashed in to tie it up at 3. Gabriel Bourque was given the second assist. The horn sounded after a few more saves for Enroth, leaving the shot tally at an astounding 34-21 in favor of Nashville.
Overtime was a whole lot of fun, at least if you are a Dallas Stars fan. After two grade-A attempts for Dallas and Nashville, the Predators began to put the pressure on Dallas, holding the puck in the offensive zone and trying to pull the plug on the Stars playoff hopes. Instead, Cody Eakin was sent into enemy territory after catching the puck at center ice with Predators chasing. He was slashed and awarded a penalty shot. Eakin came in slow and sent one just mightily past Rinne’s blocker, and the Stars held on to their playoff hopes for one more night by beating Nashville 4-3 in overtime.
Thoughts and Observations
Travis Moen was excellent once again. This was after a 20-game absence from the lineup. He now has three points in his last two games, and have helped the Dallas Stars get off and running on both nights.
The Dallas Stars were outshot 36-24 against the Predators tonight. There is something strange about the Stars this year in that the games they win they tend to be outshot, while the games they lose they tend to have the higher shot percentage. More to come on that.
Dallas was 100% on the power play tonight. Even if they only had one opportunity, one power play goal is always better than none.
This was the Stars first win against the Nashville Predators this season. They are now 1-2-1 against them on the year, with one more game coming up against them to finish the season.
Jhonas Enroth broke the Dallas Stars backup curse by winning a game as a starting backup for the first time in 389 days. He did this in spectacular fashion, stopping 33 of 36, including a few high quality rips from Nashville. Enroth continues to help Dallas in their time of need, and the Stars would be smart to re-sign him in the upcoming offseason.
With the win, the Dallas Stars are still alive in the playoff hunt. There is still very little chance of them even being able to climb back, so do not get your hopes up. The Stars must finish the year 3-0-0, while the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings need to finish up their seasons on an 0-4-0 skid. Now, tell me, in what abstract world would that ever happen?
But it does not matter. The Dallas Stars have rallied together and made sure that quitting was the farthest thing from their minds over the past few months. They are a great team poised for a great future. Taking a year off from the postseason may be JUST what they need to take 2015-2016 by the reins. I believe in this organization, and I hope you do too.
The Stars will take on the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, with one team assuredly being knocked out of the playoff race. We’ll see which club stands taller. The Stars have yet to beat the Sharks this season, so we’ll have to see how it goes. Make sure to check back to Blackout Dallas for updates regarding the matchup!
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