It is still anyone’s series between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. And with Game 5 scheduled for Saturday afternoon, there’s yet another opportunity for both teams to shift the series in their favor. Which will prevail?
A big afternoon game on NBC between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. That sounds like the Winter Classic.
But it’s not. Instead, it’s the setup for Saturday’s Game 5 contest between the Stars and Predators at Bridgestone Arena in their first round playoff series. But the implications in this one are much bigger than an outdoor game in the middle of the season.
That’s because this is anyone’s series. Dallas and Nashville are currently tied at 2-2 in the series itself and have put together one of the most intense back-and-forth playoff series of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
More from Blackout Dallas
Through the first three games, each team had done a little bit of everything. They had both dropped a game at home and stolen a game on the road. Both had gone on long scoring droughts on their power play while the penalty kills were dominant. The goaltending of Ben Bishop and Pekka Rinne proved to be a key difference-maker in each game. Each game had been decided by just one goal. And through it all, there had been plenty of bad blood, physicality, and comebacks that left fans hungry for more.
Game 4 was the outlier, though. On Wednesday night, the Dallas Stars put together a 5-1 routing of the Predators in their final game on home ice before transitioning back to Tennessee. Their power play rattled off three of the team’s four goals in the first period, Bishop bounced back from a rough Game 3 showing and stopped 34-35, and the Stars controlled the flow and the pace of the game. They were confident and composed from the opening puck drop, while the Predators looked rattled.
But it’s only one game. While it was a dominant showing, the results were the same. And now, the series is tied at 2-2 and is truly anyone’s for the taking.
So, with a best-of-three setup now looming, which team takes the advantage out of Saturday?
For one, the Dallas Stars have been the better team in each of the past two games and seem to have built a lot of momentum using their confidence. Everything clicked on Wednesday night and gave them a look at just how dominant they can be.
On the other hand, the Predators are heading back home to a weekend crowd at Bridgestone Arena. They controlled their last game at home (Game 2), stumped the Dallas power play during their 0/6 effort, and picked up a 2-1 win in overtime. So, the home ice advantage seems to be working in their favor at the moment.
Something has to give. And that’s what makes this afternoon’s game such an exciting one. The opportunity is there for either team to reclaim hold of the series lead and push their opponent to the brink.
After some debating and potential substitutions, the Stars will go with their same lineup from Game 4.
Mattias Janmark looked to be a potential option during Friday’s practice after missing the last two games with an injury. But it was made official on Saturday morning that he would not play.
That leaves the top trio of Benn, Seguin, and Radulov an opportunity to continue forcing matchup problems for the Predators defense. Zuccarello has hit a surge since joining the Stars at the 2019 Trade Deadline, scoring four goals and tallying six points in his first six games with the team.
The line of Cogliano, Faksa, and Comeau is known for making a strong defensive push, though they also put together a hardworking shift that resulted in a goal for Cogliano in Game 4.
In four starts during this postseason, Ben Bishop owns a save percentage of .942 and a goals against average of 1.98. His numbers are nothing short of stellar for a goaltender (especially during the playoffs) and gives the Stars a confident backstop as the series rages on.
If the power play can click again and the Stars can stick to their usual game plan, they should be in a good position to keep building on their momentum in a big game. Whether they will do it or not remains to be seen.
The Dallas Stars are on a roll after a dominant Game 4 showing. The Nashville Predators have moved on from their lapse in Game 4 and are aiming for a strong bounce back effort.
Game 5 is here. Which team takes the next step and which team gets pushed to the edge of the cliff? Can the Stars win another big road game and head back home with a chance to close out the series? We’ll find out starting at 2 p.m. from what should be a sold-out Bridgestone Arena.