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Post-Game Musings: at Dallas

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
Despite giving up a goal in the opening minutes of play, the Nashville Predators notched three consecutive goals and held on down the stretch for a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars Sunday night at American Airlines Center. Nashville’s 34th win on the season was just its seventh all-time in the Stars’ home arena in 26 tries.


The Predators were short a forward Sunday, with Mike Fisher out of the lineup with an illness. The team went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, and got off to a bit of a slow start. The same can’t be said for Dallas, though; Michael Ryder put the Stars on the board first, as he eluded Nashville’s defenders to turn a Mike Ribeiro pass into a 1-0 lead at 6:49 of the first.

A strong shift for the Preds with five minutes left in the first period seemed to change momentum, building toward a redirection goal by Gabriel Bourque at 15:39 to make it 1-1. Then Nashville took the lead on its first power play, with Shea Weber converting just as the buzzer sounded to end the first period.

After Colin Wilson made it 3-1 for the Preds at 16:05 of the second period, the Stars returned with pressure in the third. Despite being 0-8-2 this season in the second half of back-to-back games (Dallas suffered a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday night against Phoenix), the Stars looked anything but fatigued in the final period. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne made a big stop on Eric Nystrom four and a half minutes into the final frame, but Alex Goligoski broke through to cut the Predators’ lead to 3-2 with just under five minutes left in regulation.

Newly acquired defenseman Hal Gill was whistled for tripping at 17:55 of the third, upping the drama as Dallas skated with its first power play. But Nashville killed off the penalty and the remaining five seconds to secure the road win, 3-2.

Next the Predators return to Nashville to begin a four-game homestand with a Tuesday night match-up against the Vancouver Canucks. Game time is 7:00 p.m.


THREE MUSINGS
Hal Gill Debut: After being acquired by Nashville from the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, Gill made his Predators debut Sunday wearing No. 75. The 6-foot-7 blueliner led all players with a +2 rating and blocked two shots in 16:23 of ice time. He was also whistled for the lone Predators penalty of the game late in the third, in a game that was shaping up as Nashville’s first of the season without any penalty killing duties.

Feeling the Power: The Predators, who entered the game ranked second overall in the league on the power play (21.2 percent) but just tenth in the league on the road (20 percent), registered a power-play goal away from home Sunday night. Shea Weber’s first-period buzzer beater with the man advantage was Nashville’s first power-play tally in three games. Weber was the last to score a power-play goal for the Preds, too, February 11 in Boston.

Matt’s Minutes: Matt Halischuk saw more ice time Sunday with Mike Fisher out of the lineup with an illness. Halischuk, who was averaging 11:13 per game entering Sunday’s contest, skated a personal season-high 19:34 of ice time. On the scoresheet he tallied one assist, two hits and three blocked shots, but he also had a goal disallowed for batting it in with his hand while seemingly attempting to get the shaft of his stick on the airborne puck.


THREE QUOTES
Predators head coach Barry Trotz: “We broke down a little bit defensively on the first goal but then we sort of got our legs under us. Maybe we didn’t skate yesterday and it took us a period to get going here.”

Predators forward Gabriel Bourque on his first-period goal: “Matt Halischuk tried to pass to me. Legwand just threw the puck to the net. I drive the net and just tip it in. It was a nice play by Halischuk and Legwand.”

Predators defenseman Hal Gill: “That was a nice win. It was a lonely spot in the box at the end there. I’m glad the guys pulled through for me.”


THREE STARS
1. F, Colin Wilson (NSH): Game-winning goal, +1
2. D, Shea Weber (NSH): Power-play goal, 4 shots, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots
3. F, Michael Ryder (DAL): 1 goal, 5 shots

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