Saturday, March 26, 2011

Predators Make Statement With 4-2 Win over Dallas

The Nashville Predators regained their focus and played a full sixty minute two-way game in route to a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night at the Bridgestone Arena in front of a a very loud 16,892 fans. It was the Predators sixth win in a row.

After slipping up on Thursday against Anaheim in the final period and almost squandering a 5-1 lead, Barry Trotz made it clear to the team that their play was unacceptable and appeared to regain their attention.

"It almost felt like for a bit that we had won the game against Anaheim but it left a bitter taste in your mouth and you don't want to finish a game like that. We talked about it and coach talked about it and I think we were much better prepared tonight," explained Pekka Rinne.

The Predators got two goals from both Mike Fisher and David Legwand while the Stars' offense came from Alex Goligoski and Brendan Morrow.

It was a relief for Fisher to get on the board as he had not scored a goal since February 27 and only has had three goals in his 20 games as a Predator. "It felt good to finally get a couple. It's been a tough slide here lately, but it's good to help out."

Rinne was solid in net stopping 28 of 30 Dallas shots. Kari Lehtonen suffered the loss giving up three goals on 31 shots faced.

Dallas got on the board first at 8:49 when Goligoski took a cross ice feed from Loui Eriksson and put it past Rinne for a power play goal. Sergei Kostitsyn high sticked Thomas Vincour to give the Stars the man advantage opportunity.

The Preds came back to tie the game 1-1 at 14:26 when Marty Erat passed the puck from behind the net and Lehtonen deflected it to Legwand in the slot. Legwand sent it back and forced it between the post and Lehtonen.

For the period the Preds out shot the stars 11-9 and led the Corsi 18-16. Faceoffs were 10-8 in favor of the Preds and Nashville out hit Dallas 12-3.

The Predators came out hard in the second period and at 2:33 Patrick Hornqvist passed to Fisher who buried the puck past Lehtonen from the left face off circle.

At 4:07, after a missed call where Shea Weber was tripped at the blue line, Dallas got a real fluky goal where a deflected puck floated in the air and landed on Rinne's head and fell behind him into the net. Morrow was credited with the goal.

Rinne explained, "I felt it hit the back of my mask and knew right away that it was in. Obviously, it was bad luck, but that's part of the game."

The Preds came back at 9:57 to go ahead 3-2 on Fisher's second goal of the evening. Fisher took a pass from Ryan Suter and skated across the crease and backhanded the puck into the net catching Lehtonen completely by surprise.

At 13:59 tensions flared as Shane O'Brien pushed Brenden Morrow who retaliated and plenty of shoving ensued and both were sent to the box with offsetting roughing calls.

For the second period Nashville out shot Dallas 11-9 and led the Corsi 19-16. The Preds also led on faceoffs 13-4 in the middle stanza.

The Predators played well in the final period. Ryan Suter took a questionable hooking call with two minutes left in the game that put Dallas on the power play and created tension in the closing moments of the game. The outcome of the game was still in doubt until Legwand nailed the empty netter with four seconds remaining.

Dallas out shot the Preds 12-10 in the final period as they were playing desperate hockey trying not to fall further out of the top eight than they already were.

Trotz was pleased with wins in back to back games against the two teams chasing them in the standings, "Arguably, these past two games have been the biggest games of the year. They've given us a little breathing room, but we've sill got to win some more games."

He emphasized that it was a team victory, "I give a lot of credit to everybody. They find ways to contribute. If it's not on the score sheet, they're blocking shots, being strong on the wall, giving you good energy shifts when the momentum's starting to swing."

With the victory, the Predators moved to 92 points and are only a point out of fourth place. They are also only five behind division leading Detroit who they play at home next Saturday night.

The Predators will take Sunday off and then prepare to face the President Cup leading Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday at the Bridgestone Arena.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass

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