Special teams led the Nashville Predators (15-14-3) to a 3-1 victory on home ice Thursday night. Nashville was successful in holding the Dallas Stars (14-11-5) to no power play goals on three man advantage chances. The Predators' penalty killers were good, but it was their power play unit that notched them the victory.
Down one after Stars' forward Erik Cole broke open the scoring at 18:07 in the first period, Nashville was awarded a five-on-three man advantage for 1:53 due to penalties from Shawn Horcoff (high-sticking) and Brenden Dillon (delay of game). They converted on both opportunities.
Ten seconds into the five-on-three advantage, Patric Hornqvist scored to tie the game. David Legwand scored a goal of his own twenty-eight seconds later to take a quick 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Paul Gaustad added an insurance goal at 9:14 in the second period on a delayed penalty call. When the third goal is scored by Nashville, they are 13-0-1.
The game could have changed dramatically, however, if Cole converted on an opportunity before his first goal. With 13:25 left in the first period, Dallas' only goal scorer hit far post from the left side. Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton thanked his post for bailing him out.
Hutton made thirty-three saves on thirty-four shots, improving him six wins on the season The losing netminder, Kari Lehtonen, stopped twenty-seven shots.
Nashville is slowly climbing their way back into the playoff race with a win against their divisional rival. Now, they are tied in points (33), although Dallas does have two games in hand. It is going to be a grind for a playoff spot in the Central Division, so it is games like these that the Predators need to win. And they did so Thursday night.
Carter Hutton has been tremendous since stepping in for the slacking Marek Mazanec. Hutton has given up just one goal in each of the last two games. Now, it appears that Hutton is the hot tendy for the Predators and it is likely he gets the start Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. Why not go with the hotter hand?
Craig Smith seems healthy enough to be in the lineup, but head coach Barry Trotz kept him out for Rich Clune. It appeared to work as the Predators are winning with him out of the lineup. But it is looking like he could return in replacement for Gabriel Bourque, who had a team-low 8:31 of TOI. What goes on in Trotz's head baffles me at times, but he does know what he is doing.
DAL – 1-0: Erik Cole – Chiasson at 18:07 in the 1st
NSH – 1-1: PP Patric Hornqvist – Legwand and Weber at 19:02 in the 1st
NSH – 1-2: PP David Legwand – Josi and Weber (2) at 19:30 in the 1st
NSH – 1-3: Paul Gaustad – Wilson and Bourque at 9:14 in the 2nd
NSH: Carter Hutton (W) – 33 saves on 34 shots; played 59:57
DAL: Kari Lehtonen (L) – 27 saves on 30 shots; played 58:20
My Three Stars
1. Carter Hutton: 33 saves
2. David Legwand: Goal and Assist
3. Shea Weber: 2 assists
Line Up Report
Predators scratches: Smith and Ekholm
Predators starters: Clune, Gaustad, Hendricks, Klein, Bartley and Hutton
Stars scratches: Sceviour, Connauton and Fiddler
Stars starters: Cole, Eakin, Chiasson, Dillon, Goligoski and Lehtonen