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Stars squander three-goal lead, fall to Predators

Nashville scores five unanswered goals to down Stars, 5-3

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

For a time on Sunday, it looked as if the Dallas Stars were going to win their second straight game and move to within four points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Then, it unraveled as they blew a 3-0 lead and lost 5-3 to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

"That one really stings. It's a tough one," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Our power play was going well. We did a lot of good things. That hurts."

The Stars built a 3-0 lead in the game by scoring three times on the power play and held that lead until late in the second period. But the Predators scored once late in the second, got some momentum and rode it to a four-goal third period to put away the Stars. 

"It's unacceptable," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "We are fighting for our lives, and that's what we put out there for the final 20 minutes?"

Special teams, which had helped the Stars build their lead, didn't help in the third. The Predators' second goal of the game came on the power play, and their game-winner came shorthanded, the league-leading tenth shorthanded goal the Stars have allowed this season. 

"We had three power-play goals, but to give one up late, to give up a shorthander late, it ruins the night for the power play," Ruff said.

The loss was the fifth in the past six games for the Stars (22-25-10) and left them six points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Defenseman Roman Josi scored two goals for the Predators, who improved to 27-21-8 and moved into the first wild-card spot in the West. They pushed their lead over the Stars to eight points.

"We battled hard," said Josi. "Maybe we could have been a little smarter in the first, but guys showed up and guys battled hard tonight. I thought we played a pretty good game. There were a lot of penalties in the first, but I think 5-on-5 we played pretty well and guys were definitely battling hard."

There were two fights in the first 45 seconds of the game. Cody Eakin and Ryan Johansen fought at 24 seconds into the game and 21 seconds later Radek Faksa and Vernon Fiddler dropped the gloves. The Predators took two extra minors in the second scrap, giving the Stars a full two-minute five-on-three power play, but the Stars couldn't take advantage. Then another fight midway through the first, this time Curtis McKenzie and Calle Jarnkrok.

Two minutes later, the Stars cashed in on a power play to take a 1-0 lead. Benn scored off the rush from the left circle at the 12:24 mark. The Stars would get a second five-on-three later in the first and take advantage this time. Sharp put home the rebound of a Tyler Seguin shot and the Stars had a 2-0 lead at 15:46 of the first.

The Stars made it 3-0 with another power-play goal in the second period. Brett Ritchie made a slick backhand pass to set up Devin Shore, who scored from close range at the 12:02 mark.

Three minutes later, Josi beat a screened Lehtonen from the left circle to cut the Dallas lead to 3-1 and give Nashville life and momentum. Eight seconds after the goal, Craig Smith broke in on net, was hooked and got a penalty shot, which Lehtonen knocked away to keep it 3-1 heading into the third.

Just 45 seconds into the third, Josi scored on a five-on-three power play to cut the Dallas lead to 3-2. Jarnkrok tied the game 3-3 at the 4:40 mark, beating Lehtonen with a blast from the right circle off the rush. And then Filip Forsberg delivered the game-winner less than two minutes later, stealing the puck from Seguin and scoring on a shorthanded breakaway to put the Predators up 4-3 at 6:02 of the third.

"We had a good power play night and got shot in the foot by my turnover there," Seguin said. "We win as a team, and we lose as a team, but tough break for myself. I've got to get it by that guy in a tie hockey game."

The Stars pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker with 2:09 remaining, but Nashville captain Mike Fisher sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 1:38 left to make it a 5-3 final.

Notes

*The Stars have been outscored 67-44 in third periods. The 67 goals against are tied for most in the league with Colorado.

*There were a total of 58 penalty minutes in the game, 46 of them in the first period.

*The Predators outshot the Stars 36-21 and had a 77-47 advantage in shot attempts.

*Jamie Benn and Esa Lindell led the Stars with 7 shot attempts each.

*The Stars were 3-9 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars have allowed a power-play goal in 17 of the past 20 games.

*The Stars scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time this season.

*The Stars allowed their 10th shorthanded goal of the season, most in the league.

*The Stars won 28 of 58 faceoffs (48 percent). Cody Eakin won 11 of 18 (61 percent).

*John Klingberg led the Stars with 24:06 of ice time. Jamie Benn was next with 22:42.

What's Next

The Stars continue their three-game road trip in Winnipeg where they will take on the Jets Tuesday. The Stars are 1-3-0 against the Jets this season including 0-2-0 in Winnipeg.

Stars Lineup

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

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jordie Benn
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Jason Spezza (upper body), Johnny Oduya (ankle), Ales Hemsky (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)

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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