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A Winning Third Period Lifts Stars Over Predators, 3-1

It ended better than it started.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars were in Nashville tonight to take on the Predators. Both teams began the evening on a three-game winning streak. The Stars’ recent success is thanks to a team-wide attention to defense and some hot goaltending. They came into tonight’s game second in the NHL in goals against average.

The Nashville Predators are also on a three-game winning streak and currently occupy the spot above Dallas in the standings. They’re 10 points ahead though, so a win tonight for Dallas would not have them trading spots, but the Stars needed the win to maintain their spot in third place, and with this win over Nashville, they’re still third in the Central.

The last time the Stars visited Nashville, Anton Khudobin had an incredible 49-save shutout against Pekka Rinne, who’s had trouble sealing the deal for Nashville in the last few starts. But, as any good Stars fan knows, defense and goaltending are only half of what makes a win.

First Period

The other half? Goals. While it’s great that the Stars are paying so much attention to their defensive game, the fact that they got more than half way through the first period with only two shots on goal isn’t going to win them many games.

Of course, Tyler Seguin did score on their second shot, so this isn’t true all the time, but that’s also skipping ahead.

The Predators dictated much of the pace of the first period. They kept the puck in the Stars zone for much of the time and had most of the shot pressure in their favor. They also, for about two minutes, had the lead.

Play started back at the Nashville blue line when they broke up the Stars’ entry. Colton Sissons carried the puck into the Stars zone, Ryan Hartman got the puck to Calle Jarnkrok, and even though the red light did not come on behind the net, the puck did in fact cross the blue line before bouncing off the center post and back out.

Two minutes later, the Stars had their second shot on goal after Alexander Radulov gathered the puck along the boards and delivered it to Seguin’s sweet spot.

It was Seguin’s 250th career goal and his 194th since joining the Stars organization.

Absolute chaos ensued late in the period when Khudobin ate ice in front of his net. The Predators couldn’t capitalize on the empty net, but the Stars couldn’t clear it either. A lot of scrambling happened before it was finally carried back out of the zone.

In the last minute of play, Blake Comeau had a late hit on Roman Josi and took two minutes in the box. The Nashville power play has been abysmal lately and that held true for at least the first half of the man advantage.

Second Period

The second frame was better for the Stars. They killed the rest of the Comeau penalty early on and got their own power play opportunity when P.K. Subban objected to being checked into the boards by Comeau.

The Predators killed that penalty, but while doing so showed off some puck-handling skills.

This is only being shared because if it had resulted in a goal, it would have been on his highlight package for the rest of his career. As it was, it resulted in nothing but a turnover when it got to the next player. But it sure did look nifty.

Khudobin and Hartman had a scrap in the goal away from play. Hartman collided with Khudobin after receiving a nudge from John Klingberg. As you can see from the GIF, it didn’t escalate well from there.

This was all happening behind the play and the Stars had carried the puck up the ice, so Esa Lindell was actually the one to take Ryan Hartman on in his first NHL fight.

After play resumed there was a delayed penalty to Mattias Janmark for holding Forsberg’s stick, but the Stars killed that penalty off as well.

More importantly, they were not outshot in this period, and they didn’t fall behind on the score board either.

Third Period

As is tradition, the third period was amazing for the Stars, especially the last four minutes or so. Seven minutes in, Roman Josi took a delay-of-game penalty. Six seconds into that power play, Klingberg tripped Viktor Arvidsson in a pretty weak call that should have probably been matched with an embellishment call. But it wasn’t. Either way, no goals came of the 4-on-4.

Jamie Benn was called for continuing Lindell’s fight and going after Hartman near the bench.

However, the Stars killed that penalty too. The Predators really have an abysmal power play at the moment.

Thanks to Rinne not controlling his rebounds, the Stars ended up with two late goals. The first came from Blake Comeau, who really had himself a game.

The Predators called for goaltender interference, but that was more of a “why not give it a whirl” than any chance that it would actually be overturned. Rinne was aggressive on his poke check, which can’t be pinned on Comeau.

Less than a minute later, Janmark gave the Stars the insurance goal.

And despite some late pressure from the Predators, they were not able to make up the deficit. The Stars won the game 3-1.

The Stars are back home to face the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST.