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Stars fall to Predators, 5-2

Patrick Sharp scores first goal of season, but Stars fall to 8-8-5

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars had a hefty advantage in shots on goal Wednesday night in Nashville, but it didn't translate into an edge in goals scored as the Stars fell 5-2 to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Stars outshot the Predators 35-21, including 22-8 in the second period, but had a hard time cracking Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, who made 33 saves.

"He's a good goalie, probably one of the best in the league," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "If he could see it, he was probably going to stop it."

The Stars allowed four or more goals for the ninth time this season and fell to 0-6-3 in those games. They are allowing 3.38 goals per game, which ranked 30th in the league through Wednesday's games.

"We've got to fix that," said Stars forward Patrick Sharp.

Sharp and Brett Ritchie scored goals, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 16 of 20 shots for the Stars, who fell to 8-8-5 on the season.

"You build off a lot of the good stuff you did in the game - and there was a lot of good stuff in the game," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Our energy was good. We didn't give up the two on ones, we didn't give up a lot of the big rush chances. A couple of breakdowns here and there on turnovers."

The Predators (9-7-3) won for the sixth time in their past eight games and improved to 7-1-1 at home this season. Filip Forsberg and James Neal both had one goal and one assist.

"We're starting to find our identity and figure out how we have to play to be successful," Forsberg said. "And obviously the points are coming as well."

The Stars killed off two Nashville power plays in the first ten minutes of the game, but the Predators took a 1-0 lead late in the first period. P.K. Subban sent a slick pass from the right point across the ice to Forsberg, who scored from the bottom of the left circle at the 14:52 mark.

"Obviously, he has proven himself to be one of the best defensemen in the league, and that's the type of plays he can make," Forsberg said. "Whenever you're out there, you've got to expect the unexpected I guess and just be ready for anything."

The Stars dominated play in the second period, outshooting the Predators 22-8 but they couldn't get the puck past Rinne and then late in the period they found themselves down 2-0 at the 16:06 mark. Nashville's Mike Fisher put a backhand shot on net off a wrap-around, Lehtonen appeared to make the save, but the puck trickled between his legs and over the goal line as the whistle was blowing. After a video review, it was determined the puck crossed the goal line before the play was dead, so it was ruled a good goal.

The Stars cut the lead to 2-1 at 5:32 of the third with a shorthanded goal. Lauri Korpikoski set up Sharp, who beat Rinne with a snap shot from the slot. But the Predators scored on the power play just 37 seconds later when Neal centered the puck to Ryan Johansen, who pushed it past Lehtonen from close range to make it 3-1.

Nashville made it 4-1 exactly five minutes later when Stars defenseman Julius Honka turned over the puck in the Dallas end, and Craig Smith finished off a three-on-none in front of Lehtonen at the 11:09 mark.

Ritchie scored on a backhand shot with 1:16 remaining to cut the Nashville lead to 4-2 but Neal sealed the win for the Predators by scoring into an empty net exactly one minute later to make it a 5-2 final.

Notes

*The Stars are 0-7-3 when allowing the first goal of the game.

*The Stars had a 35-21 advantage in shots on goal but the Predators had a 52-50 edge in shot attempts.

*Julius Honka and Patrick Sharp led the Stars with 5 shots on goal. Patrick Eaves and Brett Ritchie were tops with 6 shot attempts.

*Sharp's goal was his first of the season.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 3-4 on the penalty kill.

*The Predators are 26-26 on the penalty kill at home this season.

*The Stars won 29 of 56 faceoffs (52 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 9 of 15 faceoffs (60 percent). Radek Faksa won 8 of 15 (53 percent). Cody Eakin won 6 of 15 (40 percent). Devin Shore won 5 of 7 (71 percent).

*Jamie Benn led the Stars with 21:35 of ice time. John Klingberg was tops among defensemen with 20:23.

*Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak played 19:51 in the game, had one assist and a plus-two rating.

What's Next

The Stars host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. This will be the second of three meetings between the Stars and Canucks this season. The Canucks won the first meeting, 5-4, in overtime in Vancouver on Nov. 12.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell

Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Esa Lindell - Jordie Benn
Jamie Oleksiak - John Klingberg

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie, Stephen Johns
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

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.

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