Positives and Negatives From the Stars’ Win Over Predators

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 09: Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (21) shoots the puck during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators on February 9, 2022 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars held on to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Wednesday night. The Stars led the game four times, giving up three tying goals until Luke Glendening scored the game-winner three minutes into the third period. Jason Robertson scored two powerplay goals, with Roope Hintz also scoring. Dallas notched their first win since returning from the All-Star break. At 24-18-2, they sit in fifth place in the Central Division and four points out of the second Wild Card spot. Here are the positives and negatives from the Stars’ win over the Predators.

Positives

Scored Early and Often

Scoring isn’t one of the many problems that the Stars have faced this year. Though they rank 17th in goals-per-game, they have scored five or more goals in nine different games this season. A good portion of those goals come from the top line of Hintz, Pavelski, and Robertson. Robertson was a terror in front of the net tonight, deflecting two shots from John Klingberg that went past Predators goalie Juuse Saros. Both goals came on the powerplay, which has mixed results this season.

“I mean, he’s something else,” Klingberg said of Robertson. “He’s so smart. On the first goal, I’m trying to shoot to score, and he tips it, great, that’s a goal.

A key factor in the win was that the scoring was spread out. Despite the Preds answering three of the Stars’ four goals, Dallas didn’t roll over. Against Calgary last week, the Stars had a 3-1 lead going into the third period. Dallas dominated the first two periods but allowed three goals in the third and ultimately lost 4-3. The offense kept the Stars in the game and intensified the pressure on Nashville to score.

Kept Pace With Preds

Dallas started the game slowly but eventually turned the Predators’ momentum around. The Stars killed off an early penalty stemming from a Joe Pavelski slash and then weathered the storm from Nashville’s offense. Robertson’s first goal at 8:58 opened the scoring and gave a jump to the Dallas forecheck. Besides an Eeli Tolvanen goal at 14:41, the Stars won the battles and controlled the pace.

It was good to see the Stars not lose focus after being scored on. In last week’s loss to Calgary, the Stars struggled to maintain any pressure when up 3-1, and they looked worse following each goal by the Flames in the third period. In Wednesday night’s game, the Stars didn’t collapse despite blowing three separate leads. The Stars and Predators traded goals near the end of the second, leaving the game tied at three.

After Robertson scored his second goal, Matt Duchene scored 20 seconds later. Hintz put the Stars up 3-2 within two minutes of Duchene’s goal before Yakov Trenin re-tied the game two minutes later.

The Stars would score early in the third on a goal by Luke Glendening and keep Nashville at bay to end the game.

Closed Out The Game

While the Dallas Stars are arguably better than their record indicates, they nullified the pressure from Nashville in the third period. Largely a problem from last year’s injury-plagued season, the Stars closed out the Predators while under immense pressure. With all the trade rumors and changes to this year’s team, the Stars defense and forecheck were adamantly tested and came away with a win.

“It was a really solid third period,” Bowness said. “We had a great third period against Boston, we didn’t against Calgary, and then a great third period tonight. Winnipeg is coming here on Friday, and it’s going to be the same type of game. It’s going to be a grind, it’s going to be a playoff-type game, and you’re going to have to fight for every inch of the ice. Our guys did that tonight.”

Glendening made a big defensive move as the Predators entered the zone in the final minute. Glendening blocked a cross-ice pass that would have had Nashville streaking into the zone on an odd-man rush. The Predators needed to get onside and reset their rush, wasting precious time. Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg also made some big blocks and cleared the puck inside the final 30 seconds. Nashville would enter the zone again with a few seconds remaining, but it was too late to get a good scoring opportunity.

“Where we’ve put ourselves, we’ve got to have a high level of desperation,” Glendening said. “Sometimes, that’s what it takes. It’s a good step, and we keep going from here.”

Negatives

Unnecessary Penalties

The Stars’ first hiccup came 30 seconds into the game. The Predators were on a counterattack when Pavelski slashed Mikael Granlund. The Stars killed off the penalty, but Pavelski’s absence hindered any offensive momentum they had going. In last month’s game against the Blues, the Stars took two bad penalties in the final minute, and St. Louis scored twice to win 2-1. Captain Jamie Benn took issue with both calls and the referees’ timeliness in calling them. While the Stars still won the game, there’s no doubt this early penalty delayed the Stars’ offense and helped the Predators.

In the first period, Benn took a bone-headed penalty when he wrestled with Trenin in front of the net. Trenin delivered an elbow-first hit to Klingberg in the corner of the Stars zone, which went uncalled. Benn rushed Trenin, shoved him, and grabbed his jersey long enough for the refs to call a roughing penalty. The officials then got together and called a five-minute major, that was reduced to a two-minute minor for elbowing, on Trenin. Both players went to the box, and the game went to four-on-four.

Both penalties were unnecessary and derailed Dallas’ offense. The Stars would commit three more penalties in the game, but none worse than Benn’s and Pavelski’s. The Stars are at their worst when getting too emotional and taking a bad penalty, and these two only hurt the team.

Trouble Holding The Lead

While the defense and forecheck stayed strong in the third period, they struggled directly after taking the lead. Two of the three goals scored by Nashville came within two minutes of the Stars taking the lead. Even after Robertson’s goal in the first, the Predators came streaking down the ice and got the puck in deep. It is never good for your team to play on their heels, and for Dallas, it usually ends up with the opponent scoring.

Nashville is a borderline elite team and probably a playoff team, but Dallas played a better game. The only time the Predators showed real fight was following a Dallas goal or the final few minutes of the third. The Stars outskated them outright and deserved this victory. However, Nashville was able to make it close. The Stars played similar to how they played Calgary, and it almost cost them the game.

This critique is aimed more towards the forecheck and defense. The offense was great in this one, but Saros robbed many of the Stars’ dangerous chances. The goals against Oettinger were scored from a screen in front of the net, a snipe from a wide-open player, and a shot in-close with the defense not fighting for the puck. The Stars may have gotten the win, but there were glaring problems on the defensive side.

What’s Next

The Stars will face the Winnipeg Jets on Friday to close the gap in the Western Conference playoff race. This is both teams’ second meeting this season, as Dallas lost 4-3 in a shootout in early November. In the third period, the Stars came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime.

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