The Nashville Predators rallied for the second-consecutive game to triumph 4-1 over the visiting Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Down 1-0 more than halfway through the first period, Predators forward Paul Gaustad dropped the mitts with Vernon Fiddler in an effort to give his team the final boost they needed to find the twine. With 41 seconds remaining in the second frame, Nashville finally found their tying tally.
“Paul was great tonight; stepping up with the fight to start out, then a big goal and an assist,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “We were a lot better in the second and the fight helps give you that momentum sometimes. I think maybe it did tonight. Things just kind of snowballed for us.”
In the final minute of the second period, Weber released a seeing-eye shot from the point that found its way past Stars goaltender Anders Lindback to knot the game at one. The marker was Weber’s second in two games this campaign and fourth straight dating back to last season.
Gaustad’s contribution didn’t stop with his fighting major in the first period, however; the fourth line center also added a goal and an assist in the third to pace the Preds.
Three-straight goals in the latter half of Thursday’s contest was the recipe for a win on opening night in Music City, and the same trick proved true on Saturday as well.
“I think it’s confidence,” Preds winger Eric Nystrom said. “You become a good third period team by doing what we have: coming from behind. We won a game in the third tonight. You get confidence in yourself knowing that you can do it. [...] We’ve had waves of attack and putting pucks in the net. It might not happen in the first, but we stick to it and it’s worked in the third.”
Nystrom’s backhand shot snuck under Lindback’s arm midway through the third period to cap off two goals in less than two minutes for the Predators. The forward said he was happy to notch the goal against his former club and that Nashville was able to capitalize off the momentum that started building late in the first.
“Over the course of the season, needing comebacks isn’t something you want to have to do too much of,” Gaustad said. “But the first couple home games to get wins like this - it shows the character we have already. We’ll take the positives from it.”
Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette explained that the Predators coming from behind in both games this season isn’t the focal point in his mind, but rather the full-game effort put forth from his club that’s garnered results each time.
“I like the game we played from start to finish,” Laviolette said. “We got to the second period, and I liked the way we pressed forward and certainly the third period too. It’s nice to see [Nystrom and Gaustad] get on the board, but more importantly to see our guys work really hard the whole game for that win.”
“It was a full 60 minutes of them outworking us,” Stars defenseman Jordie Benn said. “Like I said, we have no excuses here. I think it starts from the top, and I think I could have been the worst player out there tonight. [...] When you don’t have anyone to follow, you have nowhere to go.”
In the opening period, Nashville forward James Neal fanned on a clearing attempt at the defensive zone blue line and Stars winger Ryan Garbutt fed the puck low to Trevor Daley who set up Antoine Roussel for the game’s first tally. The Stars held a one-goal lead for the next 30-plus minutes, but Nashville’s peppering of the Dallas goal was too much for the club to stand up against. The Preds fired 33 total shots on goal and 25 in the last two periods.
“I thought their backchecking and that type of pressure in the game was really good,” Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff explained. “It was a tight game where I thought we messed up and they kept coming.”
Still looking for their first win of the season, the Stars record stands at 0-1-1, while Nashville improves to 2-0-0.