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Mully's Musings: at Dallas

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
The thought had to be running through the minds of Nashville Predators fans on Friday night.

Can they really do this again?

On Thursday, Nashville twice came back from three-goal deficits to stun Columbus and win 6-5. On Friday, Dallas jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, only to see it whittled down to a 3-2 advantage midway through the second. The Stars went up 4-2 before the period was over, but Nashville clawed back to get it to 4-3 early in the third on a power-play goal by David Legwand.

But alas, back-to-back stunning comeback victories were too much to ask for.

The Stars held on for a 6-3 victory to end a busy and nerve-racking week for Nashville. The Preds received balanced scoring once again, a nice showing from their backup goaltender and continued to play with resiliency. But it came up short heading into the holiday weekend. Still, Nashville has won six of its last eight games and can look back at the past two weeks as a successful run.

Start or not?: Earlier this week, if you looked at the schedule, you saw that the Preds would be playing on back-to-back nights versus Columbus and at Dallas. So, it would seem obvious that goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback would split the work. Look a little closer, and it was a smart plan to start Rinne in both games. On Tuesday, Lindback got the start at Washington, and the Capitals won 4-1. The decision to start Lindback was made to prepare Nashville’s No. 1 goaltender for a two-game stretch against teams the Preds are more familiar with – and two teams that are also in the Western Conference. Further, Nashville would have Saturday and Sunday off, which would allow Rinne to get plenty of rest before Monday’s game against Detroit at Bridgestone Arena. Against Columbus, Rinne did not have an exhausting night and faced 31 shots, including only seven in the third. Against Dallas, he gave up three goals on only seven shots and was replaced by Lindback (who stopped 19 of 21 shots). As Nashville coach Barry Trotz said, Rinne didn’t get much help from his teammates against the Stars. Replacing Rinne with Lindback in the first period was more of a momentum move, and not because of Rinne’s performance.

Erat heating up: Preds forward Martin Erat recently had a streak of 13 games without a goal. But the talented veteran has turned it on in the past two games. Erat had the game-winning goal against the Blue Jackets on Thursday with 8.4 seconds to go in regulation, and he also added an assist. On Friday night at Dallas, with the Preds working on a 5-on-3 power play, he scored to cut Dallas’ lead to 3-2. After a slow start to the season, Erat has scored 12 points in 11 games during the month of December. As Nashville moves forward, Erat does not need to carry the team on his back, but he will need to be more consistent in his point production as the season continues.

Looking ahead: The Preds will have the weekend off before hosting Detroit on Monday at Bridgestone Arena. Expect it to be a good one considering the teams have split the first two games of the season. The Red Wings won 4-1 on Nov. 26 at Detroit. Then the Preds won 4-3 in Nashville on Dec. 15 when Shea Weber scored two goals late in the third period for a 4-3 victory. Nashville has played better at home in recent weeks and Bridgestone Arena will likely be at its loudest to this point of the season when Detroit’s first skate hits the ice on Monday.

D Francis Bouillon: “We came back (on Thursday) but we can’t do it every night. We have to play 60 minutes.”

F Loui Eriksson, Dallas: 1 goal, 1 assist, +3 rating
F Steve Ott, Dallas: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating
F Martin Erat, Nashville: 1 goal

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