The Dallas Stars scored three power-play goals--including two back-breaking 5-on-3 tallies in the third period--and added an empty net goal to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-1 Friday night at American Airlines Center. Antti Miettinen scored twice for the Stars, who overcame a first-period 1-0 lead for Nashville to take the win. Scott Hartnell scored the lone Predators goal and netminder Chris Mason was sensational in the loss, making a number of unbelievable saves to keep the game close through the first two periods.
With the game tied 1-1 early in the third period, Predators forward Jordin Tootoo delivered a hit on Jeff Halpern and drew Halpern into a retaliatory penalty. That gave the Nashville power play its third opportunity of the night. Only 16 seconds into the man advantage, though, Hartnell was whistled for high-sticking, reducing the game to 4-on-4 play at 5:09. Then a holding call on Preds blueliner Marek Zidlicky at 5:36 made it 4-on-3. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis made a nice play to break up a threatening cross-crease feed around the 6:20 mark, but Dallas scored 10 seconds after Halpern's penalty expired to give the Stars a 5-on-3 advantage. Jere Lehtinen netted the goal, banking a shot in off the bottom of Mason's right leg pad as the Predators netminder nearly recovered to make the save. The goal, which came at 7:03, made it 2-1 in Dallas' favor
Still skating 5-on-4 after the goal, the Stars went up by two men again when Martin Erat was sent to the box for holding at 7:21. Miettinen scored his second of the night 13 seconds later, deposting a pass through the slot from his position in the left circle. Nashville stopped the bleeding at that point, shutting down 29 seconds of a 5-on-4 disadvantage and another 1:31 of 5-on-3 play after a penalty to Steve Sullivan. Stars leading scorer Philippe Boucher nearly added another goal while the Predators were short-handed by two, blasting a shot that hit the right post then the left post before caroming away from the net. Still, two tallies in 31 seconds by Dallas suddenly put Nashville down 3-1 with half a period of hockey remaining.
The Predators mounted a charge and seemingly scored at 11:44 to make it a 3-2 game when Hartnell knocked down a Paul Kariya pass at the left post. A replay showed the puck had clicked off Hartnell's stick on the way to the ice. The puck ended up beneath Dallas netminder Marty Turco and crossed the line according to the gestures of Hartnell and Kariya behind the net. Although the goal light did come on, a video review disallowed the goal and the game remained at 3-1.
Nashville called its timeout at 19:02 and pulled Mason for an extra attacker. The gamble backfired when a turnover by J.P. Dumont in the neutral zone resulted in an empty-net tally for Patrik Stefan at 19:23.
Hartnell had put Nashville ahead early in the game with his team-leading 15th goal. A pass by Stars forward Stu Barnes was blocked by Predators defenseman Ryan Suter in Nashville's zone and the puck squirted to Hartnell, who carried it up the left wall and headmanned to teammate Josef Vasicek on right wing. Vasicek entered the offensive zone and dropped the puck to Alexander Radulov who was following in Vasicek's tracks. Radulov angled toward the goal and looked as if he might shoot when he zipped a hard pass to Hartnell as he was charging the net from the left wing. Hartnell redirected the puck past Turco at 4:51 of the first period to put the Predators ahead 1-0.
Dallas outshot Nashville 10-4 in the opening period. While the Predators were productive with their limited chances, Mason looked sharp as he kept the Stars off the board. His save on defenseman Sergei Zubov's one-timer with 2:04 remaining in the period was a jaw-dropper. A cross-ice pass on a 2-on-1 seemed to leave Mason dead to rights but his dive back to the left allowed him to just get the tip of his glove on the puck and deflect it harmlessly to the corner.
In the second, Jason Arnott had two good chances early as Nashville skated on its first power play of the game. The Predators were unable to add a second goal and an interference call against Dumont at 4:43 gave the Stars their second manpower advantage. The home team capitalized at 5:29. On a Dallas rush, a pass was fed to Miettinen for a shot at the right post. Mason made a spectacular save as he went flat on the ice but the puck was still loose. It arrived back in front of Miettinen, allowing him to chip it over Mason to tie the game.
Mason's spectacular play continued in Period 2, as he stopped Barnes on a cross-ice one-timer and denied Mike Ribeiro on two cracks at the right post. Mason turned aside eight of nine shots in the second period and Turco was perfect on seven shots at the other end.
The Predators return to Nashville for a Saturday night game against the Boston Bruins. Game time is 7:00 p.m. CT at the Gaylord Entertainment Center and tickets are still available. To order, purchase online, call 615-770-PUCK, or visit any Ticketmaster outlet.