Saturday, October 31, 2009

Predators Comeback to Defeat Stars 4-2

Barry Trotz Postgame Interview

Steve Sullivan, Patric Hornqvist, J P Dumont and Shea Weber Interviews

The Nashville Predators had balanced scoring and came from behind to defeat the Dallas Stars 4-2 Saturday night at the Sommet Center.

It was a night where Halloween and college football were the clear winners in Nashville as many purchased tickets went unused as fans stayed home in droves. The losers were the fans who stayed home and missed a big win for the Predators who have fought back to the .500 mark and get back in the mix in the competitive Central division.

The Predators goals came from Shea Weber, Steve Sullivan, Patric Hornqvist and Kevin Klein. The Preds out-shot the Stars 33 to 29 and the discrepancy was even greater when blocks and misses were considered with a 60-49 edge to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne battled through a couple of early goals and really toughened up during the last half of the game stopping 27 of 29 Dallas shots.

The game did not start well for the Predators as J. P. Dumont was called for hooking 3:00 into the contest. Thirty-one seconds later Steve Ott jammed the puck into the net when the defense was unable to clear the puck out of the blue ice in a messy situation.

The momentum seemed to turn at 13:03 in the first when Dallas’ Mark Fistric knocked Joel Ward into the boards and Jerred Smithson quickly responded to Fistric’s actions putting both in the penalty box.

On the ensuing power play, Shea Weber blasted a shot from the blue line that found it’s way through traffic and into the net past Alex Auld to tie the game at one.

The second period started off in much the same way as the first with Dallas getting back on the board at 2:15 in on a shot from the circle by Brian Sutherby where Cody Franson may have partially screened Pekka Rinne.

The Predators quickly had chances to tie the game but were stymied by Alex Auld twice, at 4:48 on a breakaway by J. P. Dumont, and at 3:50 when David Legwand went one on one with Auld from point blank range.

At 12:45, Pekka Rinne made the save of the game as he stopped the puck several times in rapid secession, the last stop when he was in a horizontal position.

The second period ended with some ragged man advantage play. After a questionable tripping call against Kevin Klein that looked more like a dive, Dave Scatchard was called for high-sticking. Dallas had 48 seconds of five on three advantage which turned into basically five on 2 ½ when Jerred Smithson broke his stick and could not get a new one.

Dallas’s power play was cut short when Fabian Brunnstrom was called for hooking at 18:07 giving the Preds the man advantage for the final 1:36 of the period. The Preds were only able to get off a single shot and could not convert.

The third period started in a more positive fashion for the Predators. At 3:17 Steve Sullivan took a short feed from J. P. Dumont and fed it through traffic into the back of the net to tie the game at two. Sully was clearly elated to score in what has been a frustrating season so far.

After the game Sullivan said, “There was a stretch there where things weren’t going good at all. It’s my job to make a contribution offensively so when I can I need to do so.”

By mid-period, Dallas was beginning to show fatigue from back to back contests as the Predators were keeping the puck in the Dallas zone for extended periods of time.

At 10:59 the Predators broke through and were able to take the lead on a Patric Hornqvist goal that was one for the highlight films. After a mad scramble in front of the net and a hand pass out of blue ice bay a Dallas player the puck found its way back to the blue ice where Hornqvist was able to lift it over Auld’s shoulder.

A minute later Joel Ward dug a puck out of the corner and fed it to Kevin Klein at the point who put the Preds up by two on a slapshot that went straight to the back of the net.

At 13:30, a tired Dallas team hoped to catch a break when the officials went to video review on a stop made by Rinne where he fell to the side into the net and it was unclear if he had carried the puck with him. The video was inconclusive and the score remained 4-2.

The Stars were a tired team and were not capable of making a comeback late in the game. Dallas Coach Marc Crawford commented, “That was a funny type of third period, you couldn’t say we played bad and there weren’t any big mistakes. They had a couple of good shots and they were going to the net pretty hard. Their goalie made a couple of big saves and they earned their goals tonight.”

Preds Coach Barry Trotz had similar comments saying, “The one common thing on all of the goals was that there was someone right in front of the net. Goals are hard to come by, you have to go to the hard places, and guys did and they were rewarded by different elements. It was all started by guys going to the net.”

Barry Trotz pointed to the five on three penalty kill in the second period as a turning point in the game, “If they score, they go up 3-1 and it might be a different story. We got some momentum after that.”

Overall, Coach Trotz saw this as a key game for the Predators, “It builds some momentum for us and gets us back to .500. We dug ourselves a hole and now we are back in the mix.”

The Predators finished the game strong and were enthusiastic about the upcoming West coast road trip.

Shea Weber was looking forward to the road trip saying, “It’s always a fun trip, it will be warm out there and hopefully we will get some wins and get on a roll.”

Barry Trotz was equally enthusiastic, “We are looking forward to the West coast trip where we have had success in the past and hopefully, we’ll do it again.”

Shea Weber played sparingly toward the end of the contest after taking a puck to the lower body on one occasion and losing an edge on another. When asked if he was OK after the game, he jokingly responded, “I just got benched, I wasn’t playing well.” The he was more serious in saying, “I feel good!”

The Predators made several roster moves prior to the game recalling Peter Olvecky and Andreas Thuresson in separate moves on Saturday. Cal O’Reilly was sent down to Milwaukee on Friday. Wade Belak, Alexander Sulzer, and Mrty Erat (lower body) were scratched for the Preds.

The Predators will be off until Thursday when they begin a four game West coast swing in Anaheim. They do not play at home again until November 14 when they play the Montreal Canadians in a game that begins a streak of 12 of 15 home games in a 29 day period.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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