Coming off of the holiday break, head coach Jim Montgomery had some colorful words when describing the Dallas Stars’ morning skate. The Stars responded with a very good first period against the Nashville Predators, but ended up getting severely outshot in the later 40.
Of course, it didn’t really matter, because Anton Khudobin is apparently a goaltending god. The Russian netminder faced 49 shots. He stopped Every. Single. One. His 49 saves were not only a career high, but also a franchise high since the Stars moved to Dallas, as well as a franchise high for saves made in a shutout including the Minnesota years.
The Stars deserved their fair share of criticism throughout the game, and they arguably got a bit lucky in the goal department as Vezina Trophy front-runner Pekka Rinne looked a bit off in net tonight. But who cares? The Stars earned two points against one of the top teams in the NHL, who just so happen to also be a division rival. I’ll take that any day of the week.
It sure didn’t look like the NHL was coming off of a break, as the Predators and Stars both began testing the goaltenders early. Nashville had the best chances to start, with a couple odd man rushes, but it was Dallas who struck first, as Tyler Pitlick straight up beat Rinne with a wrist shot while coming down the left wing side to make it 1-0.
Tyler Pitlick does a give and go with Radek Faksa and then beats Rinne low glove side to start the scoring in Nashville.— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) December 28, 2018
DAL 1 - 0 NSH pic.twitter.com/xukGRhMUbU
The Predators would continue to get the better chances, but then Radek Faksa drew a holding penalty against Kyle Turris with a little more than seven minutes left. Both power play units for the Stars look good, albeit a little inaccurate, with only a couple shots on net despite several opportunities.
That power play seemed to jolt some extra life into the Stars, who began to outshoot Nashville with several quality chances, including one that snuck between Rinne’s legs but bounced off the post. All in all, it was a solid first 20 for the boys in green.
Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 0
Shots: Dallas 13, Nashville 12
The middle frame began much like the first, with the teams trading shots back and forth. The Predators had quite a few high quality chances, while the Stars’ best opportunity came when a Pitlick shot rebounded right towards Roman Polak, who shot it a bit too high.
Unfortunately, as the period went on, the Predators took it up a notch and began severely outshouting the Stars. But Anton Khudobin stood tall, and Mattias Janmark rewarded him with a slap shot that somehow made it past Rinne and into the Nashville net.
Mattias Janmark absolutely unloads on a slapshot and it trickes past him to double the Stars' lead.— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) December 28, 2018
DAL 2 - 0 NSH pic.twitter.com/2kg9fbu71J
The rest of the period was more or less the same, as the Predators continued to try and bully Khudobin, while the Russian shrugged off every shot he faced. Ironically, when Nashville went on the power play thanks to a Pitlick holding penalty, they actually managed to shoot less, landing only a single shot on net despite spending more or less the entire two minutes in the offensive zone.
Eventually the siren sounded, and thanks to stellar goaltending and a soft goal, the Stars headed back to the locker room with a two goal lead.
Score: Dallas 2, Nashville 0
Shots: Dallas 19, Nashville 31
Desperate to get on the board, the Predators continued to bring the heat against Khudobin to start the third, who in turn continued to stop everything sent his way. Not to be outdone, Dallas generated several high scoring chances themselves, including a few by the Stars’ top line, who up to that point had been mostly quiet.
The Stars would get the chance to deliver the final blow with 10:43 left, when P.K. Subban took an interference penalty against Devin Shore and put the Stars on the power play. The second unit almost squeezed one by towards the end, but the Nashville defense stood strong. A minute or so later, the Stars took a penalty of their own with too many men on the ice.
The Predators couldn’t make anything of the man advantage, and were ultimately forced to pull Rinne for the extra attacker with 2:45 left in the game. Pitlick took a tripping penalty with 48 seconds left, but 20 seconds later Roman Josi went to the box himself for interference. That sealed the deal, and the Stars secured the shutout for Anton Khudobin.
Score: Dallas 2, Nashville 0
Shots: Dallas 30, Nashville 49