After an impressive 3-2 victory in Game 1, the Dallas Stars were back at it against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs tonight. In what had to be a response game for the Predators, the Stars would need to absorb some body blows to hold off the top of the Central Division.
With the same lineup from Game 1, the Stars were looking to take a stranglehold on this first round series by winning both games on the road before the series shifted to back to Texas. Dallas appeared to be a relaxed and confident group in the days preceding Game 2, and they’d need that poise and more to come out on top against the Predators again.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs is a long road, with many mile markers to track your progress. The Stars would hit mile marker number two on the road to the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.
The game began rather gingerly for both sides, as the two teams seemed to be feeling each other out over the first few minutes. The Predators appeared to be trying to stretch the Stars out with long passes through the neutral zone, only to be thwarted by the Stars’ good defensive coverage. The Predators established the first meaningful zone time of the period, coming in waves at the Stars and goaltender Ben Bishop. The effort of the Predators was rewarded when Roman Josi streaked into the Dallas end and drew a penalty on Mats Zuccarello for slashing.
The Stars would bend but not break on the Predators’ power play, and they killed off the advantage after some tense moments. As the period approached the midway point, the Predators opened up a 5-0 shot advantage. However, the Stars found their legs after the kill, owning a shift in the Predators zone and eventually earned a power play of their own when Austin Watson was called for roughing Miro Heiskanen.
The first moments of the Dallas power play were rather uneventful, as the first unit again struggled to establish strong zone time. The best chance of the power play was for the Predators when Victor Arvidsson forayed into the Dallas zone and put a wrister in on Bishop. Overall, the Stars’ first shot at the man advantage looked harmless against the stout penalty kill of the Predators.
The best defensive play of the first half of the period came from Esa Lindell, who quite literally saved a goal when he got his stick in a passing lane to deflect it away from Arvidsson, who was wide open.
The Stars were gifted a fantastic opportunity to get on the scoreboard first when Mattias Ekholm took a double minor for interference and unsportsmanlike. With four minutes of power play time, the Stars once again struggled to gain traction against the Predators kill. When the Stars did find chances via their second unit, Pekka Rinne was equal to the task. The Stars gained some momentum in the second half of the double minor, attacking the Predators from multiple angles, but to no avail.
With the building rocking after a massive kill by the Predators, the Stars kept the special teams theme going when Roman Polak took an interference minor. The Predators quickly set up their power play, funneling quick pot shots at Bishop, which resulted in another Dallas penalty on Blake Comeau for roughing. The penalty was part of a matching minor, meaning the advantage stayed at 5-on-4 for the Predators. The Stars managed to survive the kill, pushing the Predators’ power play to 0-for-6 in the series.
After a wild period that saw five combined power plays, the game stood scoreless entering the first intermission.
Shots: Dallas 9, Nashville 15
Score: Dallas 0, Nashville 0
Dallas began the period by spending some much-needed time in the Nashville zone, after only recording two even-strength shots in the opening frame. After back-to-back icings and a favorable matchup for the Stars, Tyler Seguin walked in on Rinne and found the stick of Jamie Benn for the opening goal of the game and a 1-0 Stars lead.
After the goal, the Stars faced injury concerns once again, as Mattias Janmark went awkwardly into the end board and favored his left ankle. When he went off the ice, he put no weight on the injured extremity.
After the injury, the Predators worked their way behind the Stars defense and fed a puck in front of the Stars net that found the stick of Rocco Grimaldi. Grimaldi, who was in the lineup for a sick Brian Boyle, deposited the puck behind Bishop to tie the game 1-1.
If the first five minutes of the period weren’t exciting enough, the Predators gave the Stars their fourth chance on the power play after Ekholm was found guilty of boarding in the Nashville zone. The Stars changed the look of their power play, by running out the second unit to start. After some good zone time, the Stars saw their best chance flutter just wide of the Predators net and their power play went scoreless for the fourth time in the game.
The parade to the penalty boxes continued as the second period played out, when Tyler Seguin was whistled for interference while on a 2-on-1 with Zuccarello. The Predators once again looked dangerous on the advantage, moving the puck around the Stars defense and pumping pucks towards the net. Bishop was equal to the task, eventually absorbing a bomb by P.K. Subban as the power play expired. Once again, the Stars killed the advantage and the Predators fell to 0-for-7 on the man advantage for the series.
Right after the Stars killed off the Predators power play, the Stars earned their fifth attempt of the evening when Roman Josi was called for a crosscheck on Jamie Benn. The Stars began the power play with more zone time, working the puck around the Predators zone. However, the Stars couldn’t find a lane to shoot, and the Stars would fall see their own power play go scoreless once again.
As the period was winding down, Grimaldi found himself right in front of the Stars net with a loose puck and an open net. Bishop came out to challenge and quickly cover, but the late addition to the Predator lineup was making his mark on the game, first with the goal and then with another good shot on the net. Overall, after a period that was carried by the Predators, the Stars found themselves tied entering the second intermission.
Shots: Dallas 15, Nashville 29
Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 1
The period began with the Predators throwing some early pucks towards the Stars net, and Bishop was able to quietly stop all of them. After absorbing the early punch by the Predators, the Stars top line went to work on a 2-on-1 that nearly resulted in a goal for Alexander Radulov — had Rinne and his pad not been up to the task.
The Stars became routinely trapped in their own end to start the period, mostly due to the fact that they could not win a face-off. The shot advantage started to open up for the Predators as well, as at the five-minute mark of the period the shots stood at 32-16 in favor of Nashville. After four straight icings by Dallas, they successfully crossed center ice and found themselves behind the Nashville defense. However, the resulting offensive zone face-off didn’t result in anything for the Stars, when the Predators quickly cleared their end.
The Stars came close to taking the lead again, when Jason Dickinson took advantage of a turnover in neutral ice and fired a shot that ringed the elbow of the post over Rinne’s glove. The period took a turn in the physicality department when, after a frozen puck in the Stars end, Craig Smith lost his cool and two-handed Blake Comeau in the face. The result was a roughing minor on Smith that sent the Stars to their sixth power play of the night.
Smith takes a two hand shot at Comeau after the whistle. pic.twitter.com/p3dgKmYLzD— Hockey Playoff Szn Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) April 14, 2019
The Stars power play began with Heiskanen taking the spot of John Klingberg, and the unit established zone time to start the advantage. However, the Stars iced the puck at the halfway mark and struggled to gain the zone in the dying moments. The Stars would fall to 0-for-6 on the evening for the power play.
With just over five minutes left in the third period, Dallas mounted a small charge in the Nashville end when Benn and Seguin buzzed around Rinne, trying to beat the former Vezina winner. The Predators responded by spending the next shift in the Stars end, but the Stars in-zone coverage was equal to the attack each time. After the first five minutes of the period, the third had become a monumental defensive struggle amongst two teams who were determined not to beat themselves.
The struggle continued into the late stages of the period, with neither team ready to concede the go-ahead goal. Overtime was to be after all.
Shots: Dallas 21, Nashville 37
Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 1
The Predators began overtime with the first quality chance courtesy of an Arvidsson wrap-around that Bishop was able to thwart. The Stars made life difficult by icing the puck twice in the first minutes of the overtime frame, which only fed the momentum of the Predators, who smelled weakness to come out to start.
Not be outdone, Radulov threw a dangerous wrap chance towards Rinne that was the result of a poor turnover by the Predators defense. The Predators responded to that chance by icing the puck, but the resulting face-off did not result in a chance for the Stars. Overall, there were 20 icings in the game.
With five minutes expired in the overtime session, the Stars found themselves hemmed deep in their own end, when the puck squirted out to Craig Smith. Smith quickly fired the puck into the Stars net and gave the Predators the game-winner to tie the series at 1-1.
Final Shots: Dallas 23, Nashville 42
Final Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 2
The Stars return to Dallas for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is Monday evening, April 15, at 8:30 p.m. CST at the American Airlines Center.