P.K. Subban scored late, but the Predators were unable to complete the comeback as they fell in Game 1 to the Dallas Stars, 3-2, at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Stars a 1-0 series lead in the first-ever postseason meeting between the two clubs.
The start to Wednesday's contest couldn't have gone much better for the home team, with Nashville creating plenty of chances and claiming the game's first goal. Things turned at the beginning of the second stanza, however, as Dallas was the faster team for the next 30 minutes.
The Preds found their legs once more late in the game, but Dallas held off the final pushes to come into a hostile environment and start the series off with a win.
"They were quicker," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the Stars. "We didn't get it out of our end, they kept their forecheck going and they kept us in our end. We weren't able to get it out; we weren't able to get it to the neutral zone. I don't know if it's a simple game or if it's a game where we needed more determination."
"The start was fine, and then after that, it's a little bit disappointing the way we played and the way we kind of left [goaltender] Pekka [Rinne] out to dry," Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "He played an unbelievable game and kept us in it the whole way. I think everyone in this locker room knows that we need to be better to get wins out of the series."
Nashville started just the way they wanted from the opening puck drop, and after a number of opportunities, Roman Josi beat Ben Bishop by cutting to the slot and depositing a backhand for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Video: DAL@NSH, Gm1: Josi cuts in and pots backhander
Dallas slowed Nashville down quite a bit in the second, and Miro Heiskanen evened the score with a power-play tally midway through the period to send the two clubs into the third deadlocked at one apiece.
"We just got out of our groove a little bit and just didn't put the puck in the right places," Subban said. "They sort of tilted the ice and in the second period I don't know how much time we spent in their zone, but it wasn't a lot. We want to improve that."
Heiskanen gave the Stars their first lead of the night just over six minutes into the final frame, and Mat Zuccarello put Dallas up by a pair with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation.
Subban got the crowd and his team back into things when his snapped a shot into the twine at 13:24, but that was as close as the Preds came to forcing overtime.
Video: DAL@NSH, Gm1: Subban spins off defender and scores
"We had looks and chances to [score], but it's not going to happen every night in the playoffs," Ekholm said. "You've got to work for the goals and you know they don't come easy. It's a good learning lesson for us. We've got to move on and make sure we're prepared for the next game."
Ekholm stated prior to Game 1 that no matter the result, the Predators were going to have to wake up on Thursday morning and turn their attention to Game 2. They do so now with the need to correct what went wrong and build on the positives of their first outing, something they're eager to do.
They'll also need to accomplish a feat that has never been done in franchise history - come back to win a series after falling in Game 1.
"You have to put it behind you quick," Josi said. "It's a playoff series, so there are a lot of highs and a lot of lows. You have to stay even, put it behind you, and look at some things and then go."
"We're not going to go undefeated all the way in the playoffs," Subban said. "It's a good learning experience for us to make sure that we play every shift like it's our last. You have to give them credit. They came into our building, it's a tough place to play in and they got one game. For us, I'm confident with our group that we're going to turn it around and come back and even the series here at home."
Video: NSH Recap: Josi, Subban score in Game 1 loss
Preds defenseman Dante Fabbro skated in his first-career playoff game on Wednesday night, recording one hit and one blocked shot in 11:45 of ice time.
Nashville scratched Yannick Weber, Rem Pitlick, Miikka Salomaki, Rocco Grimaldi, Zac Rinaldo, Matt Irwin, Cody McLeod, Frederick Gaudreau and Niclas Westerholm in Game 1.
Game 2 between the Preds and Stars comes on Saturday evening with a 5 p.m. CT puck drop at Bridgestone Arena. The series then shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday of next week.