Nashville coach Barry Trotz didn't decide on a his starting goaltender until the day before his team's first game. It looks like he made the right choice.
Dan Ellis stopped 38 of 40 shots in regulation on Saturday night, then turned aside four of five in the shootout as the Predators opened their season with a 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.
Ellis lost the starting job to Pekka Rinne down the stretch last season, but worked hard in the off-season and excelled in camp, earning the opening-night start
"I'd say it was the right decision based out of camp, putting a lot of emphasis on the training camp portion," Trotz said. "It was a good win for Dan and the team, and I thought we started off pretty well."
Rookie Mike Santorelli's goal in the fifth round gave the Predators only their fifth win in 21 visits to Dallas and sent them home with a win in a game in which they couldn't hold a 2-0 lead.
Ellis stopped the first 20 shots he saw and led 2-0 before James Neal banged in a rebound with 10 seconds remaining in the second period.
"Giving up that late goal in the second really gave them a lot of energy." Trotz said. "I thought it gave them a lot of energy in the third and we ended up in a lot of penalty trouble that was pretty taxing on our players. They had a real good push after they got that first goal."
Steve Sullivan made it 2-0 at 4:47 of the second period, beating Turco with a wrist shot.
Neal struck again 4:05 into the third following a high-sticking penalty to Ben Guite. He grabbed Ellis' clearing attempt between the circles and beat him high to get the Stars even.
Turco stopped 24 of 26 shots, fending off a late Nashville power play that extended into overtime. But after Mike Ribeiro put Dallas ahead by scoring in the second round of the shootout, David Legwand scored in the third round to keep the Predators alive and Santorelli won it.
"It felt all right. We know we deserved a little bit better, getting a win tonight, the way we played," Turco said. "It was pretty great to see us coming from behind and sticking with it."
Jason Arnott opened the scoring 1:48 into the game with Mike Modano in the box for tripping. Turco stopped Arnott's initial wraparound try, but Arnott squeezed his own rebound under Turco's arm to the far side.
After Neal tied it, Dallas defenseman Karlis Skrastins had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation, but fired wide on a 2-on-1 break.
It was a disappointing start for the Stars, who are trying to bounce back after missing the playoffs in 2008-09 and replacing Dave Tippett as coach with Marc Crawford.
"We talked about a good start, and short shifts," defenseman Trevor Daley said. "We maybe deserved a little better than we got. Sometimes that's the way this game is. Some nights you don't play so well and get wins. Tonight was one of those games where we thought we should have won it."
Nashville lost forward J.P. Dumont early in the second period after a big shoulder hit by Stephane Robidas and didn't return.
"He was out for precautionary reasons. He seems fine." Trotz said. "He had a big old smile on his face after the game."
Brenden Morrow showed no lingering effects from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the final 64 games of last season. The Dallas captain had two shots on goal, had another two blocked, and recorded two hits but was kept off the scoresheet.
Nashville has four days off until its home opener on Oct. 8 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars will hit the road and play in Edmonton on Tuesday, the beginning of a three-game trip. This was the first of three meetings between Dallas and Nashville in October.
--Brad Gardner, NHL.com Correspondent