The Predators got off to a shaky start when they allowed a short-handed goal by Brian Sutherby at 5:07 in the opening period. The odd man situation originated when Mike Modano caught Steve Sullivan in the face with his stick resulting in a four minute penalty. The Preds were unable to convert on their end of the power play.
Dallas scored again at 15:32 in the first when a shot by James Neal slipped though Dan Ellis's five-hole leaving it unprotected in the blue ice. Mark Parrish jumped on the unprotected puck and swept it in for an easy goal. This was a prime example of the type of second chance goals that have given Dan Ellis fits and have led to his losing the number one goalie slot this year.
The Predators made a comeback in the second period with a goal by Jason Arnott at the 14:04 mark. It was a beautiful play where Ryan Jones passed to J P Dumont who sent it to Arnott who buried the puck in the net behind Dallas goalie Marty Turco. The goal extended Arnott's goal streak to four games.
The Predators started the third period a man down due to a four minute high sticking penalty given to Steve Sullivan at the buzzer in the second. The Preds situation deteriorated quickly when Dan Ellis flipped the puck over the glass seven seconds into the period resulting in a five on three advantage for Dallas.
At 1:42 Brad Richards took advantage of a breakdown in the Predator defense and scored the power play goal putting the Stars up 3-1 signaling the end to any further Predator comeback hopes. The goal was the tenth goal given up by the Predators in five on three situations which is the league high.
The final nail in the coffin was an empty net goal by Steve Ott with a minute and a half left in the contest.
The Predators actually out shot the Stars 26-22 and had another 15 shots blocked and missed another 14 shots. The Preds first line accounted for half of the teams shots including six by Arnott and five by Steve Sullivan.
Dan Ellis earned his seat back on the pine with his play tonight. I can't help believing that had Pekka Rinne been in net, we could have seen a different result. As tight as the race in the Western Conference is, it may be time to revisit the Predators “rule” where a goalie getting a shutout starts the following game.
With the loss, combined with the win on Friday versus the Wild, the Predators did what was needed in the long run on by playing .500 on the trip. The Predators are in good position to make a move in the standings as 10 of their next 12 games are on home ice.
The Predators return home to the Sommet Center Tuesday night to play their division rival, the Detroit Red Wings in the first game of a four game home stand that also includes visits by St. Louis, Boston and Ottawa.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass