Well that escalated quickly.
Could this be similar to the Minnesota Wild game from last season that sparked their glorious run back into playoff contention? It reads kind of similar, in that the team had found themselves in a 3-0 goal before coming back. Unlike that game, though, the Stars didn’t walk away with two points. Still, they took one in a game where, with just under eight minutes left in regulation, they looked headed for another loss.
Also unlike last year, the Stars were without a lot of their key offensive contributors - no Alexander Radulov (injury), no Roope Hintz (injury), no Tyler Seguin (offseason surgery), no John Klingberg (he welcomed his baby girl in the wee hours of Sunday morning). Instead it was Radek Faksa, Joe Pavelski, and Jason Robertson that manufactured the comeback.
How the Stars got into that big of a deficit is a familiar refrain this year. The penalty kill was leaky, allowing the first and third goals of the game, with Nashville converting at a 40 percent clip tonight. The penalty kill did manage to successfully kill off a double-minor, as well as another late-game minor with the team looking for the tying goal.
This game really could have gotten off the rails had Nashville’s actual third goal scored held up. Stars video coach Kelly Forbes remains elite at calling for challenges and winning them. As the replay showed, the Predators player in front of Jake Oettinger caught his glove hand and kept him from being able to move within his crease, thereby allowing the goal to be called off for goaltender interference.
It’s just really too bad that the good feelings from that only lasted less than 30 seconds, when the Predators scored again to take the commanding lead.
Faksa began the comeback with a diving backhand goal late in the third period. Then, the Stars began to really pour it on, getting a second goal by Pavelski on a late game power play chance after Jason Dickinson was crosschecked (surprisingly, not in his face). That goal was also reviewed, as the net came off its moorings around the same time that Pavelski deflected it in off his skate. With the ruling that there was no kicking motion and that the puck crossed the line simulatenous to the net being dislodged, it counted.
Robertson was the real MVP of the game, securing the Stars a point with his tying goal off an absolute ripper of a shot.
Overtime was a rather conservative affair on both sides, with the Stars registering the only shot on goal in the 3-on-3 format and successfully hemming the Predators into their own zone for extended shifts in those five minutes. It all came down to the shootout, where Robertson was the only Stars to score (with other attempts by Miro Heiskanen and Pavelski unsuccessful) and Roman Josi icing the win in Nashville’s favor.
Jake Oettinger wasn’t particularly outstanding in this one, but it was another step in his learning curve for the NHL starting a second night in a back-to-back. The shootout saves will come with more experience as he settles in at this level.
Another note of interest: with Klingberg out of the lineup, I predicted that Heiskanen would play over 30 minutes tonight. His final stat line: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 shots on goal, and 0 penalty minutes in 32:30 of time on ice.