The Dallas Stars were impressive in their opening night shootout loss to Chicago Thursday night at American Airlines Center. It was a much different story Saturday night in Nashville, where the Stars were outplayed in a 4-1 loss to the Predators.
“We have no excuses in here. We didn’t come out ready to play tonight and they outworked us for 60 minutes,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It starts from the top and I could have been the worst player out there tonight. I can take a lot of the blame for tonight’s game. When you don’t have anyone to follow there is really nowhere to go.”
The Stars (0-1-1) led the Predators 1-0 after one period, but Nashville dominated play the rest of the way, outshooting Dallas 26-13 and scoring four unanswered goals.
“I thought early on it was a little bit of trading off. I just think at the end, it came down to some puck battles. We lost puck battles,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought their backchecking and that type of pressure in the game was real good. It was a tight game where I thought we folded and they kept coming.”
Antoine Roussel scored the lone goal for the Stars. Anders Lindback stopped 29 of 32 shots in his Dallas Stars debut.
“You know what, I thought he was pretty solid,” said Ruff. “There wasn’t a lot of chances. There wasn’t a lot of tough opportunities. I think he’d probably want two and three back, but I thought until then, a little careless playing the puck a couple times, but he was giving us a pretty good game.”
Lindback stopped the first 20 shots he faced, but then gave up three goals on six shots over a ten-minute span from late in the second to midway through the third period.
“I have to be better. I have to be a difference maker in these kind of games,” Lindback said. “In tight games, I need to make those saves that will keep us at 1-1. Every point matters and unfortunately today I didn’t capitalize and we as a team didn’t manage to get back, so look forward and keep going.”
Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom each had one goal and one assist for Nashville. Shea Weber and Roman Josi also scored. Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 17 of 18 shots for the Predators, who improved to 2-0-0 on the season.
“I can tell you from a team point of view we’re here as a group to win hockey games. We’re really just trying to live in the day,” said Nashville coach Peter Laviolette. “We were able to win a hard fought hockey game tonight against a good team. We’ll wake up tomorrow, and the guys get a chance to take a break then get back to work and get ready for the third game.”
The Stars scored the only goal of the first period. Ryan Garbutt picked off a clearing attempt by Predators forward James Neal and set up Antoine Roussel, who scored from the bottom of the right circle 7:14 into the game to put the Stars up 1-0.
Nashville dominated play in the second, outshooting the Stars 14-7. The Stars had a couple of good chances to extend the lead, but Rinne denied a Jamie Benn shot from the slot. Moments later Weber made a skate save on Tyler Seguin with Rinne caught out of position. Lindback was excellent in the second for the Stars, but Weber scored on a wrist shot from the point with 41 seconds remaining to tie the game 1-1.
“I saw the shot coming. I was trying to just stay patient. I reacted too late and it snuck in,” said Lindback.
The Predators outshot the Stars 12-6 in the third and scored three times to turn a 1-1 game into a 4-1 Nashville victory. Gaustad scored what would hold up at as the game-winner at the 8:33 mark, taking a pass from Taylor Beck and scoring on a wrap-around to make it a 2-1 game.
“Beck did a great job of getting the puck to me and for me I just tried to wait it out as long as possible and just jam it in,” Gaustad said.
Nystrom scored off a backhand shot on a two-on-one rush 1:21 later to put the Predators up 3-1. Josi scored a late empty net goal to round out the scoring.
Quotable: Stars captain Jamie Benn on Anders Lindback
“I think it’s tough for him (facing 32 shots), but I think he played a great game tonight. He made some big saves in there and he gave us a chance to win. We couldn’t do anything to back him up.”
*Nashville outshot the Stars 33-18.
*The Predators have outshot their opposition 70-38 in the first two games.
*Nashville directed 62 shots at the net, including those blocked or that went wide, to 44 for the Stars.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*Shea Weber and James Neal led the Predators with four shots each.
*The Stars were 0-1 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 29 of 58 faceoffs (58 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 9 of 17 faceoffs (53 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 11 (55 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 9 (56 percent). Cody Eakin won 9 of 19 (47 percent).
*Nashville’s Paul Gaustad won 11 of 16 draws (69 percent).
*Gaustad had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the game, registering a goal, assist and fight (vs. Vernon Fiddler).
*Stars forward Antoine Roussel left the game early, picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and ten-minute misconduct with eight minutes left in the game after taking a big hit from Weber.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Patrick Nemeth – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: F Patrick Eaves, D Kevin Connauton
Injured: D Sergei Gonchar (ankle), Rich Peverley (heart)
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.