After a major comeback in Dallas on Wednesday night to tie up the series 2-2, the Stars were in Nashville for Game 5. While Wednesday showed Dallas to be a dynamic force, how they answered back on Saturday afternoon was crucial for their survival of the series.
Though Nashville made some changes to their game, the Predators were no match for the on-fire Dallas Stars. With the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov rolling, secondary scoring on attack, and solid defense, the Stars stole another win from Nashville to put themselves ahead in the series.
Though Dallas may be known for their slow starts, the usually sleepy Stars were nowhere to be found in the opening period. They put the pedal to the metal hard early on and kept their foot on the gas for the full 20 minutes.
Early in the frame, the Stars went to the first power play of the game, their 20th of the series, with Filip Forsberg taking a seat for slashing against Esa Lindell. After the top unit found their flow on Wednesday, they kept it rolling today with dangerous chances and zone pressure. The second unit was just as effective but nothing made it past Pekka Rinne, who looked to be on his game from the get-go.
The Predators had obviously taken notes from Game 4, as the adjustments they made going into Saturday did away with some of the flaws that the Stars had been using against them. The biggest change was cleaning up their zone exits, which Rocco Grimaldi took advantage of early in the period. After a clean zone entry, Grimaldi deked out his man-on and scored with the puck off of his own skates, putting Nashville up 1-0 6:25 into the first.
Just over seven minutes later, the Stars came roaring back, with the Jason Dickinson, Roope Hintz, and Mats Zuccarello line leading the charge. Hintz deked past Forsberg to swing behind the net and pass to Dickinson in front, who scored from the slot to tie it up 1-1 at 13:08. Not only did it get the Stars on the board, but it was also Dickinson’s first playoff goal.
Shots: Stars 14, Predators 9
Score: Stars 1, Predators 1
The second frame started with a bang, with the Stars going up 2-1 just 40 seconds in. Dallas forced yet another turnover and Tyler Seguin picked it up, before sending a cross-ice pass in front of the net for Radulov, who then deked out P.K. Subban, scoring on the sharp angle. Radulov’s effort put the Stars up 2-1.
Dallas kept the pressure on and it paid off seven minutes later, with the top line combining for yet another goal, and Radulov notching his second of the night. Grimaldi misread a play and sent out the puck, effectively giving the Stars their own breakout. Benn knocked Ryan Ellis off of the puck before he could fully reach it and sent a drop pass net-front to Radulov, who potted it in to make it 3-1.
At this point, Nashville did their level best to create some push-back and flip the pressure onto Dallas. Viktor Arvidsson drew the attention to himself in front of Bishop, which allowed Ryan Johansen room to fire it up high over Bishop’s shoulder. Johansen’s goal cut Dallas’ lead to 3-2 midway through the game. Johansen and Radek Faksa then had a tangle in the corner, trading matching roughing penalties and putting their teams on the 4-on-4. However, neither side capitalized and both teams returned to full strength.
The top line of Benn, Seguin, and Radulov were rolling throughout the game, this time with Seguin getting in on the scoring action. Benn made a fantastic clean zone exit without a single man on him and sent it up front to Seguin. From there, Seguin used his quick release to send the puck five-hole and put the Stars up 4-2 at 15:54 in the period.
Dallas once again found themselves on the power play shortly after, with Mattias Ekholm sitting for unsportmanslike conduct. Dickinson went in hard towards the net and then fell, sprawling towards Rinne, whom he whacked with his stick as he continued to slide past the net. Ekholm took exception to his action after the whistle and was sent to the box as a result. While the Stars couldn’t get anything in on their man advantage, it demonstrated that the Predators’ control was slowly unraveling.
Shots: Dallas 22, Nashville 17
Score: Dallas 4, Nashville 2
The Stars once again created heavy chances early and it paid off. Dallas put the pressure on and caused yet another turnover (Nashville’s 17th of the game). Dickinson intercepted it, fired in a shot high from the slot to put the Stars up 5-2 just 1:57 into the period.
The tide turned quickly and just 28 seconds later, the Predators answered back with one of their own. Brian Boyle shoved Jamie Oleksiak in front of the net, and Oleksiak deflected in a rouge Kyle Turris shot to cut Dallas’ lead to 5-3.
Chaos then ensued in front of the Stars net, sending the Predators to their first power play of the game as Miro Heiskanen sat for hooking on Colton Sissons. While Nashville’s power play has been lackluster of late, they pushed back with some fire of their own, showing more urgency and getting some dangerous shots on net. Luckily, Ben Bishop was on his game and kept anything from going in.
The second half of the period saw the Predators and the Stars with some neck-and-neck play, both putting on pressure in the neutral zone and trading off shots on goal. In the end, Dallas came out on top and kept their lead to win it 5-3.
Final Shots: Dallas 26, Nashville 33
Final Score: Dallas 5, Nashville 3
The Stars now lead the series 3-2 and will take on the Predators again in Dallas on Monday, April 22. Start time is still to be determined.
Did You Know?
Captain Jamie Benn hit a playoff career high of three assists in today’s game against Nashville.