It wasn’t exactly how the Nashville Predators planned on welcoming back their captain.
Dallas entered Thursday having lost three of its last four games, but exited Bridgestone Arena with a 4-1 victory against the Preds. Nashville was 7-3-0 in its last 10 games, but saw its three-game winning streak snapped and appeared discombobulated for most of the final 40 minutes.
Stars center Mike Ribeiro continued to be a Preds killer. He scored two goals and now has seven points in his last four games against Nashville. The Preds entered the night in seventh place in the Western Conference standings (46 points) while Dallas entered 10th (43 points), but that gap closed quickly.
On the positive side for Nashville, the Preds set a franchise record with their seventh consecutive sellout. They host Carolina on Saturday at 7 p.m. On to the musings… THREE MUSINGSWeber returns:
When the first video of Preds Captain Shea Weber
flashed up on the scoreboard on Thursday, the crowd erupted with cheers. And while Weber didn’t have his best game of the season (which would have been an unrealistic expectation), he will be back into his All-Star type of groove soon. Weber missed the previous four games with a concussion but appeared healthy, dishing out some big hits while absorbing a few. He was also aggressive on offense and led his team with four shots. When Weber was out for the four games, every defenseman stepped up in terms of ice time. But the player who saw the biggest spike was rookie Roman Josi
, who saw his average ice time jump from 14:20 before Weber’s injury to an average of 23:43 in the four games Weber missed. That’s a difference of 9:23 per game. On Thursday, Weber had 25:45 of ice time, while Josi’s was more manageable at 17:11.Tootoo stands up:
It was only a matter of time before a Preds player and Dallas’ Mark Fistric threw down the gloves. Fistric was the player who leveled Weber with what many believed to be an illegal hit on Dec. 23, which forced Weber to miss the four games. Less than two minutes into the first, Jordin Tootoo
stepped up and tangled with Fistric, and while no punches were thrown, Tootoo did slam the bigger Fistric to the ice. Following the game, Weber said he appreciated Tootoo sticking up for him. Working hard:
In the totality of the loss, it may be easy to overlook Nashville’s lone goal. But to Nashville’s coaching staff and the players, it was one that was well deserved. Nashville rookie Gabriel Bourque
knotted the game at 1-1 at 8:31 of the first period after receiving a nice feed from Tootoo. It was his first NHL goal. Bourque has been working hard and it finally paid off. Ask Trotz about Bourque’s style and approach, and it’s safe to say Trotz is impressed. He describes Bourque as hard on the puck with a lot of conviction to his game. A boost of confidence and added production could keep Bourque in town for quite some time. THREE QUOTES
D Shea Weber
: “I think my conditioning was pretty good, actually. I felt good skating. My hands just weren’t quite where I want them to be yet.”
F Gabriel Bourque
: “There are 42 games left, I think, so we can’t get too low. We can think about this game tonight, and tomorrow we need to focus on the next game.”
D Ryan Suter
on Weber’s return: “It was good to see him back. He was skating well and it’s good to see.” THREE STARS
F Mike Ribeiro, Dallas: 2 goals
G Kari Lehtonen, Dallas: Stopped 24 of 25 shots
F Loui Eriksson, Dallas: 2 assists