Stars Clinch Playoff Spot With 5-1 Win Over Predators
Robertson hit 101 points and Wedgewood stopped 26 of 27 shots on net as the Stars punched their ticket to the playoffs.
It has long been certain that the Dallas Stars would make the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the team made it official last night after taking down the Nashville Predators 5-1 on home ice.
The game was the first of the season for Thomas Harley, who was called up yesterday morning from the Texas Stars. It was also the first NHL game since February 18 for goaltender Scott Wedgewood. The Stars' backup netminder was a brick wall in net, stopping 26 shots in what should have been a much-deserved shutout had it not been for a late goal by the Predators.
But the Star of the show was by far Jason Robertson. The Stars' top scorer produced another 4-point game, giving him 10 points in just the last 4 days. With the performance, he became the first Dallas Star to score 100 points in a season, and only the fourth to do so in franchise history.
Additionally, the Minnesota Wild lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the shootout, allowing Dallas to pass them in the standings thanks to owning the tiebreaker. However, the Colorado Avalanche still hold the top Division spot in terms of points percentage, sitting only two points back on Dallas and Minnesota with two games in hand.
But games in hand only matter if you win – Dallas will look to keep banking points themselves when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers this Thursday. Puck drops at 7:30 PM CT.
The game started off with a bang, as Ty Dellandrea managed to snipe one past Juuse Saros within the first few minutes. Unfortunately, Nashville challenged the goal for offsides, and, well... let's just say the review didn't take much time.
But never to worry – the Stars still managed to score within the first five minutes. The top line worked their magic, and Roope Hintz potted his 35th of the season:
Throughout the rest of the first, the shots on net were consistently even between the two teams. But Dallas' shots were higher danger, and the Stars also did a better job at staying in the offensive zone. Still, while the team got a couple more good looks, they weren't able to extend their lead in the first.
Score: Dallas 1, Nashville 0
Shots: Dallas 10, Nashville 10
If Dallas looked in control in the first period, the first half of the second was a swing in the complete opposite direction.
Less than a minute into the middle frame, Jamie Benn got called for a (in my opinion, questionable) hooking penalty, giving Nashville the first power play of the evening. The Stars managed to kill it it just fine, but the momentum stayed with the Predators, who were the only team generating any offense.
The Stars soon got their own power play thanks to a (again, in my opinion, questionable) tripping call on Kevin Gravel, but they still couldn't get a shot on net to save their lives. It got even worse when the power play ended, and Ryan Suter let Gravel jailbreak behind him, forcing this stonewall save by Scott Wedgewood:
But thankfully, the Stars' offense picked back up, and momentum shifted back towards Dallas. The team got several high-quality scoring chances, including a puck that rang off the crossbar and another one from Tyler Seguin that just barely hit the post and stayed out.
Eventually, though, the dam broke as Collin Miller and the fourth line rocketed one past Saros:
A few minutes later, Dallas would go back on the power play due to a (in my opinion, finally non-questionable) hooking call on John Leonard. This time, Dallas wouldn't let the opportunity be squandered, as Miro Heiskanen gave Joe Pavelski the world's easiest goal off of a beautiful pass:
Dallas drew another penalty almost immediately afterwards, enjoying 6-on-5 hockey for nearly a minute until Nashville took possession. Sadly, the high-sticking call was changed from a single minor to a double, allowing the referees to review it and ultimately take the penalty off the board, as no infraction occurred; the Stars would have to settle for being up by only three heading into the third.
Score: Dallas 3, Nashville 0
Shots: Dallas 16, Nashville 19
A few minutes into the third, Dallas drew another penalty, a tripping call by Tyson Barrie. This one wasn't rescinded, but unfortunately the Stars weren't able to score on the ensuing power play.
Luckily, the Stars would soon get another chance – about five minutes later, the Dante Fabbro was sent to the sin bin for high-sticking, along with Collin Miller and Mark Jankowski, who earned offsetting minors for a scruff after the whistle blew.
It took only five seconds for the Stars to score, courtesy of Jason Robertson. His previous goal was his 94th point, which broke Mike Modano's record. So it was fitting that this one, his 43rd of the season, was the one to give him 100 points:
Robertson wasn't done there, however – as the clock wound down, head coach Pete DeBoer kept Roope Hintz out for maintenance purposes. Tyler Seguin slid up to take his spot, and he and Robertson made some beautiful back-and-forth passes to setup Seguin's 20th goal of the season:
Unfortunately, while the goal was being announced, Cal Foote spoiled Scott Wedgewood's shutout with an unassisted goal. A minute later, the Predators would get their second power play of the evening as Thomas Harley went to the box, but Wedgewood and the penalty kill stood tall, preventing a possible late comeback.
Final Score: Dallas 5, Nashville 1
Final Shots: Dallas 26, Nashville 27