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Preds Striving for Continued Consistency as Series Shifts to Dallas

With Series Now Tied, Nashville Hopes to Continue Road Successes in Texas

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

After falling to the Stars in Game 1, the Predators were convinced they didn't have to change a whole heck of a lot heading into Game 2. They were right.

Instead, a consistent effort against Dallas on Saturday night in Nashville led to 43 shots on the Stars net, a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and a game-winner from Craig Smith five minutes into overtime to give the Predators a 2-1 win as they evened their Round One series at 1-1.

On Sunday afternoon, the Preds flew west to Texas with Games 3 and 4 looming on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

There haven't been many surprises through a pair of outings thus far in the series. Both games have been won by just one goal, and the clubs have shown off their defensive capabilities with Nashville competing as the better team in Game 2.

While it wasn't a must-win game mathematically for the Predators on Saturday, it might as well have been. The last thing Nashville wanted to do was leave their own building without a win heading into a hostile environment in Dallas.

Luckily, they won't have to deal with that predicament.

"It was just consistency," Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis said of Game 2. "You find yourself down one on home ice going into Game 2, and we needed a win. You don't want to leave your own building down 2-0, so I thought you saw the guys fight a bit harder and commit more to our game plan. That being said, I think timely goals, and obviously the OT goal is huge for us, and all in all it was a more complete effort."

Video: Jarnkrok, Ellis recap Game 2, look ahead to Game 3

"They're difficult to generate against," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the Stars. "Good team defense, they have good goaltending, and our team is built a lot of the same way, and so that probably leads itself to some low-scoring games. We're able to get one in overtime, and it was a big goal to tie and crack one in overtime. The difference between 2-0 and 1-1 is a big difference especially going on the road."

Making Saturday's victory more impressive is that the Predators had to most of the work with only 11 forwards at their disposal. Winger Wayne Simmonds left the game in the first period after taking a Roman Josi shot off the knee while trying to screen the Dallas net. Simmonds later returned for a skate during a television timeout, but he quickly retreated back to the Nashville dressing room, forcing an alteration in the lineup.

With Simmonds's absence, Laviolette rotated players down onto the fourth line to skate with Calle Jarnkrok and Rocco Grimaldi, the latter of whom was a late addition to the lineup after Brian Boyle was forced to miss Game 2 due to illness.

In the second period, it was the visiting Austin Watson, who found Grimaldi in front for Nashville's only goal in regulation, and then Smith took a turn on the line in overtime, only to tie the series with one shot.

"That kind of throws a screw into things, but I think we managed it well," Smith said. "That was on Lavi to shift around players and fill in that hole there for a while, so it was great. I thought everyone did a great job."

Video: Craig Smith, Dante Fabbro look ahead to Games 3 and 4

"It was really good actually - I thought anybody that went down there with Jarnkrok and Grimaldi was an effective line, and so I thought that was really positive," Laviolette said. "Rocco came in and gave us real, quality minutes, Jarnkrok looked good, and it didn't matter whether [Mikael] Granlund was down there or [Filip Forsberg] was down there, [Watson] took some shifts, [Smith] got some shifts, and Smitty ended up being on that line as they scored the game-winner. They were productive for us, and whoever went down there did a really good job."

Grimaldi should be a candidate to remain in the Predators lineup in Game 3, not only as a reward for his performance in Game 2, but also because of the uncertainty of the forward group's health. Laviolette did not have an update on Simmonds on Sunday afternoon, and Boyle was listed as still dealing with illness.

No matter who gets the call on Monday night at the American Airlines Center, the Predators will likely have to replicate Saturday's effort, and then some, to find success once more.

Video: Laviolette outlines challenges upcoming on the road

The Predators have always had confidence away from home - their 22-15-4 record on the road during the regular season was one of the top marks in the League, including a pair of wins in Dallas - and now they'll get a chance to steal at least one and potentially come back to Nashville with a decided advantage in the series.

"When it comes to the road, I think it has to do with the leadership in the room and making sure we're ready to play," Laviolette said. "I don't know if it's necessarily a different game. I'd like to try and play the same game, but every game you peel it back and it looks different every day. I don't think there's much of a difference for us whether its home or road. Obviously, the building will be loud, it'll be in their favor, but that's just the nature of the beast."

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