The Dallas Stars got off to a good start Thursday night in Nashville and grabbed an early lead, but the Predators pushed back and pushed their way to a 4-1 victory over the Stars at Bridgestone Arena.
The Stars led 1-0 after the first period, but Nashville scored twice in the first 6:21 of the second to grab a lead they would hold the rest of the game.
"That first period was as good a period as we've played all year. They dialed it up for seven or eight minutes in the second period, and we didn't have an answer," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "They scored the two goals, and we were pressing for the rest of the game."
The Stars were pressing for another goal but came up empty. They've scored just eight goals during the first four games (2.0 per game), and only three have come during five-on-five play.
"I'm concerned," Hitchcock said. "Not so much about the production, that's the end result. I am concerned that we are missing a number of glorious opportunities and too many games we are letting goalies outwork us. We have three games we've lost where we made the goalie the first star and the best player on the other team. We have to figure that out quick."
Jamie Benn scored the lone goal, and Ben Bishop stopped 27 of 30 shots for the Stars who fell to 1-3-0 on the season.
Video: DAL@NSH: Benn nets Klingberg's rebound for PPG
"Not good enough," said Benn. "We're just not sticking to it for 60 minutes. We're playing against a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their building, which is tough to play in, and we're not playing hard enough. Good start, good first period and then they took over after that."
The Predators (2-2-0) won their second straight game. Pekka Rinne stopped 30 of 31 shots and Filip Forsberg, Samuel Girard, and P.K. Subban all had one goal and one assist.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "They are a good team over there with the ability to flip the switch offensively. I thought we did a good job of tightening down defensively."
Special teams were big in a fast-paced first period. After the Stars killed off Nashville's first power play of the game, they cashed in on their first chance with the man advantage. John Klingberg put a shot on net from the point, and Benn put the rebound past Rinne to give the Stars a 1-0 lead at the 8:04 mark.
The Dallas penalty kill came up big later in the period after Martin Hanzal was given a five-minute major for interference after an open-ice hit on Nashville defenseman Yannick Weber. The Stars kept Nashville from scoring and limited the Predators to just two shots on goal over the five minutes while getting off two shorthanded shots.
Weber, who was reaching out for the puck when Hanzal caught him high with the hit, did not return for the rest of the game. Laviolette did not have an update on Weber.
"I don't have anything to report," Laviolette said. "You hate to see someone get hit when they are in a prone position like that."
Video: Hitchcock on tough loss in Nashville
Said Hanzal: "I thought he had the puck. When I looked at him he had the puck, so I just finished him. I didn't jump. I didn't even raise my elbow. I'm not sure where I hit him."
The Predators bounced back in the second, scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. Girard scored from the point to tie the game 1-1 at 3:27 of the second.
On the ensuing faceoff, Stars defenseman Stephen Johns and Predators forward Cody McLeod picked up fighting majors and less than two minutes later the Stars were back on the penalty kill after Jason Spezza picked up his second tripping minor of the game. This time Nashville cashed in when Filip Forsberg scored on the rebound of a Girard shot, and the Predators had a 2-1 lead at 6:21 of the second.
The Stars had a good push early in the third and had a great chance to tie the game at the 5:51 mark, but Antoine Roussel shot wide at the open side of the net from close range.
The Predators extended the lead at the 15:09 mark when Alexander Radulov turned over the puck at the Dallas blue line, and Forsberg set up Viktor Arvidsson who broke in on net and beat Bishop with a wrist shot to make it a 3-1 game.
Hitchcock pulled Bishop with 3:40 remaining for an extra attacker but Subban sealed the win by scoring into the empty net from the Nashville goal line to make it a 4-1 final.
Both teams had 31 shots on goal. The Stars had a 59-53 advantage in shot attempts.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots each.
John Klingberg, who had an assist Thursday, has registered points in all four games this season.
The Stars were 1-1 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.
The Stars won 31 of 64 faceoffs (48 percent). Martin Hanzal won 8 of 12 (67 percent). Tyler Seguin won 12 of 22 (55 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 13 (46 percent).
Klingberg led the Stars with 24:53 of ice time. Esa Lindell was next with 22:33.
The Stars return home to take on the Colorado Avalanche Saturday at American Airlines Center. The Avalanche (3-1-0) will be on the second night of a back-to-back. They host Anaheim on Friday. Colorado defenseman Patrik Nemeth, claimed off waivers from the Stars prior to the season, has three assists and a plus-seven rating in four games for the Avalanche.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Martin Hanzal - Devin Shore
Remi Elie - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Julius Honka
Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
Injured: Dan Hamhuis (groin)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.