After a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Dallas Stars bounced back on Thursday to take care of business in regulation, winning 4-1.
The first period was mostly up-and-down, starting with an early goal by Esa Lindell and a late one by Colton Sissons. But the Stars shut down the Predators in the middle frame, outshooting them 13-4, although only Jason Robertson found the back of the net. An early third period powerplay goal by Jamie Benn gave them a secure lead, and ultimately Miro Heiskanen scored an empty-netter to put it all away.
Dallas is still five points behind Nashville for the last playoff spot in the Central Division, but they have four games in hand. The Stars still have a long way to go if they want to make the postseason, but this is a step in the right direction.
Unlike last game, the Stars wasted no time in getting their offense going. The team forced a turnover in the neutral zone, eventually leading to Esa Lindell having no one but Juuse Saros in front of him. An expertly placed shot put the puck in the net, and the Stars on the board:
Nashville didn’t manage so much as a shot on goal for the first seven minutes, until Lindell went to the box for tripping Mikael Granlund. That seemed to get their offense going, although it resulted in nothing but an Andrew Cogliano and Erik Haula scuffle behind the net shortly after the power play expired.
Those two minutes seemed to flip the script, however — suddenly it was Nashville getting all the shots on net, with Dallas managing very little offensively. That eventually resulted in Colton Sissons of all players undressing the entire Stars team and slipping one past Anton Khudobin.
That seemed to wake the Stars up, and the momentum shifted again, with Dallas getting several shots on net in the final minutes. Nothing resulted from it, however, and the period came to an end with a tied score.
Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 1
Shots: Dallas 10, Nashville 11
Dallas carried their momentum into the middle frame, vastly outplaying Nashville from the get go. They shot the Predators 10-1 within the first six and a half minutes, until Radek Faksa went to the box for tripping Rocco Grimaldi. That didn’t amount to much, however, and just a couple minutes afterwards, Roope Hintz undressed the Predators and found Jason Robertson for an easy one-timer:
The Stars continued to get some quality chances, including a shot from Miro Heiskanen off the rush and one from Ty Dellandrea up front. The Stars would then get their own power play when Roman Josi cross-checked Tanner Kero, but the best scoring opportunity was Nashville off the shorthanded rush.
As if they were already starting to turtle, the Stars didn’t do much for the rest of the period. A late hi-sticking by Mattias Ekholm against — who else — Jason Dickinson, however, would ensure they’d start the third with essentially a full power play.
Score: Dallas 2, Nashville 1
Shots: Dallas 23, Nashville 15
It took nearly the entire power play, but Dallas found the back of the net once more, as a Denis Gurianov shot bounced off of Jamie Benn’s leg and in:
A little more than five minutes in, Blake Comeau went to the box for interference against Matt Benning. The Predators failed to score, however, and while they had a few quality chances afterwards, they were largely ineffectual in the offensive zone throughout the remainder of the period.
Dallas, meanwhile, surprisingly continued to bring the heat. With less than three minutes left, Nashville pulled Saros for the extra attacker, to no avail. Joe Pavelski forced a turnover, and Miro Heiskanen found the empty net all the way from the Stars’ own faceoff circle:
That was it for the game, save for a last minute fight between Ty Dellandrea and Luke Kunin, plus a Mathieu Olivier misconduct. The Stars avoided overtime by a healthy margin, and thus secured the win.
Final Score: Dallas 4, Nashville 1
Final Shots: Dallas 31, Nashville 22