“It was a hell of a hockey game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
It was a gritty game that had a playoff feel to it, featured a couple of fights and was tightly played by two teams that would meet in the first round if the playoffs started today.
“They came hard,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky. “They’re a big team, a lot of skills, and they play really hard. It was a tough game.”
The Stars improved to 6-3 in the 3-on-3 overtime with Monday’s win. The Stars came close to ending it early in the extra period, but a John Klingberg shot rang off the post. The Stars got the game-winner on an odd-man rush after Nashville’s Filip Forsberg fell in the neutral zone during a botched line change. Tyler Seguin set up Janmark, who put the puck into the open side of the net from close range to give the Stars their seventh win in the past eight games.
“We got a three-on-one, and I just tried to stick with it. [Seguin] made a good pass,” Janmark said.
Cody Eakin and Hemsky scored in regulation and Antti Niemi stopped 24 shots for the Stars, who won their fifth straight game on the road and improved to 37-15-5 (79 points) on the season.
“We’ve been good in overtime. We scored again tonight. I thought we played a pretty solid, strong game,” said Eakin. “When they get rolling in this building, it’s pretty hard to stop them. We fought back and waited for our turns and waited for our opportunities.”
The Predators (26-21-10) fell to 1-9 in 3-on-3 overtime this season and lost for the fifth time in their past six home games (1-4-1).
“We’ve lost so many points in overtime this year, and it’s just frustrating,” said Forsberg.
The Predators outshot the Stars 10-7 in the first period and scored the only goal to take a 1-0 lead. Craig Smith put home the rebound of a Mattias Ekholm shot at the 11:32 mark.
The second period featured three goals and two fights and when it ended the two teams were tied 2-2. The Stars scored twice in a 1:17 span to take a 2-1 lead. Jamie Benn set up Eakin, who scored off a blast from the right circle on a shorthanded rush at 5:42 of the second to tie the game. Hemsky put the Stars ahead at the 6:59 mark, roofing a shot from close range over Nashville goaltender Carter Hutton to make it a 2-1 game.
There were two fights later in the period. First, Stars forward Antoine Roussel took on Predators captain Shea Weber.
“I thought he held his own,” Ruff said of Roussel. “It was a pretty good scrap. You don’t see that very often. I thought he did a great job.”
And then it was Stars center Vernon Fiddler and Predators center Paul Gaustad.
“It’s going to be that type of a game. It’s a division game,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “They’re fighting for their spot in the standings, and we’re fighting for our spot. That usually brings out the competitive edge in players.”
The Predators tied the game late in the second when Smith centered the puck to Forsberg, who scored from the slot to make it 2-2 at the 16:18 mark.
There was no scoring in the third, but both teams had chances to win in regulation. Benn had two point blank chances that were turned away by Hutton and Forsberg had a good look in the final minute, but he shot wide.
And off it went to overtime, where the Stars won for the third time since the All-Star break and where the Predators continue to struggle.
Stars center Jason Spezza missed his fifth game due to an upper-body injury, but he could be back soon. Spezza skated with the team Monday morning in a red no-contact jersey and Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Spezza could play later this week.
“My forecast would be the end of the week, Thursday or Saturday. I am guessing probably Saturday,” Ruff said.
*The Stars are 8-5 in games that have gone beyond regulation. They are 6-3 in 3-on-3 overtime and 2-2 in shootouts.
*The Stars are 13-5-1 against the Central Division.
*The Stars are 6-1-0 since the All-Star break.
*The Stars outshot the Predators 32-26 and had a 62-48 advantage in shot attempts.
*Jamie Benn led the Stars with 5 shots on goal and John Klingberg was tops with 8 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 29 of 54 faceoffs (54 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 10 of 17 faceoffs (59 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 12 (58 percent). Mattias Janmark won 5 of 10 (50 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 23:16 of ice time.
The Stars continue their road trip, playing at St. Louis Tuesday. The Stars are 1-1-1 against the Blues this season.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin – Mattias Janmark – Ales Hemsky
Vernon Fiddler – Radek Faksa – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Injured: Travis Moen (lower body), Jason Spezza (upper body)
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka, Curtis McKenzie
This story was not subject to the 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.