Thursday, January 5, 2012
The build-up coming into Thursday night's matchup between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars was perhaps as high as it's been all season for Nashville. Shea Weber was making his return to the lineup against the team that injured him in the first place, and the franchise regular season sellout record was expected to be broken. The Stars weren't phased, however, and were able to defeat the Predators by a 4-1 score.
Nashville came out with a lot of energy, and really seemed to be focused on the physical aspect of the game. It really looked like the Predators were emotionally overcharged from the start of the game. Jordin Tootoo and Mark Fistric squared off 1:46 into the game in an anticlimactic fight that saw just one takedown by Tootoo. After that, it really seemed like the Predators struggled to find consistency in their game.
"I think we were focused a little bit in different areas. We try not to be, but sometimes it happens. We weren't sharp. We didn't have the execution that we normally do, and just had an all-around bad game," said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.
Dallas got on the board first when Mike Ribeiro dangled past Roman Josi and Klein for a beautiful goal. Nashville would respond a little over four minutes later when Gabriel Bourque notched his first career NHL goal from the slot.
As the first period was drawing to a close, Ribeiro got his second goal of the night when he was able to tap a loose puck past Pekka Rinne. It was an odd play, and it gave the Stars all of the momentum heading into the second period.
"It was just a tip and it hit a couple of guys and bounced around. It just happened to get behind (Rinne), but we can't let that bother us. We were only down by one goal going into the second so we've got to be better in a lot of areas," Klein said.
Jamie Benn added another goal in the third period on a miscommunication behind the Nashville net. Ryan Suter reversed the puck behind the net and none of his teammates were there for the puck. Rinne didn't realize what had happened, and Benn was there for the easy goal. Adam Burish added another goal for the Stars in the final frame, and Dallas was able to coast to a 4-1 win.
Franchise history was made for the Predators on Thursday night. It was the seventh consecutive sellout , which is a regular season franchise record. The support from the fans has really seemed to give the team a boost this season.
"That's fantastic. We know the fans are behind us. We're being recognized more in the community. I think we're doing a lot more to sell the game, which is nice. It's nice to have the fans behind us for sure," Klein said.
Nashville will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, and will be looking to extend the sellout streak. Anders Lindback has been sent down to Milwaukee, and Jeremy Smith has been called up from the Admirals. While it's likely just to give Lindback more playing time, it will be interesting to see if Smith sees any playing time while up in Nashville.
Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Mike Ribeiro(DAL)
2. Loui Eriksson(DAL)
3. Kari Lehtonen(DAL)
Official 3 Stars:
1. Mike Ribeiro(DAL)
2. Kari Lehtonen(DAL)
3. Loui Eriksson(DAL)
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)