American Airlines Arena has been anything but friendly to the Nashville Predators, with the Dallas Stars dominating on home ice with a record of 17-4-1. In those 22 contests, the Stars have outscored the Predators 66-29 on their home ice.
Doesn't really sound like a formula for success for a depleted Predators lineup against the Stars, does it?
This is a Predators team that has character, heart, and grit, however, and tonight those characteristics were prominently displayed as they knocked off the Stars by a score of 1-0.
Oh yeah, the Predators had one other thing to lean on tonight. Netminder Pekka Rinne, who was at the top of his game in blanking the Stars. Rinne stopped all 30 shots that he faced tonight to pick up his first shutout of the season.
The Predators got on the board just 42 seconds into the contest. The line of Cal O'Reilly, Patric Hornqvist, and Steve Sullivan did a great job of controlling the puck and cycling deep in the Dallas zone. A shot at the net caromed off the skate of Hornqvist out to Shea Weber on the blueline. Weber unleashed a blast that Leighton stopped with his pad, but the rebound kicked out to an open O'Reilly. He shot the puck off the rebound and Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen initially made a pad stop. The puck slid behind Lehtonen, who was desperately reaching for the puck lying on the goal line. O'Reilly followed his shot and was able to poke it past Lehtonen for the only score of the game.
Rinne was outstanding in this game, stopping several quality scoring chances by the Stars. He had to be especially sharp in the second period as the Stars peppered the Nashville net. In that period, the Stars outshot the Predators 13-5. For the game, the Stars outshot the Predators by a 30-24 margin.
Injuries continue to plague the Predators. J.P. Dumont left the game with a lower body injury after playing only ten minutes of the contest. The extent of Dumont's injury is unknown.
Predators defenseman Kevin Klein was battling an illness, but still logged 17:07 of ice time. The Predators recalled defenseman Teemu Laakso from Milwaukee and went with seven defensemen in the contest. Laakso played 2:43. Sergei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch.
Nashville fans were caught in the was of the dispute between Fox Sports and Direct TV. Fox refused to lift the blackout on the game, so there was no Nashville feed or feed from Dallas on Center Ice. The game had an old time feel to it for Nashville fans as we huddled around the radio to keep up with the contest.
Thanks, Fox Sports.
With this win, the Predators remain the only team in the NHL to be undefeated in regulation. The Predators are 4-0-3.
The Predators are on the road Sunday night at Tampa.
As children, we are told the only way to deal with your fears is to face them directly. The Predators faced their demons in Dallas and met the challenge.
New challenges await.
Time to face them.
My three stars of the game:
1. Pekka Rinne
2. Cal O'Reilly
3. Kari Lehtonen