Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Predators Slam the Stars 5-3

The Nashville Predators continued their torrid play of late, demolishing the Dallas Stars 5-3 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators have recorded a point in 10 straight games, tying a team record. The Predators are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games.

The Predators got on the board first as Craig Smith tallied his 15th goal of the season from the top of the crease, beating Antti Niemi, who could not control the rebound.

The Stars would tie the game just 10 seconds later as Antoine Roussel would beat Anthony Bitetto off the boards to stuff the puck between Pekka Rinne's skate and the post.

The teams would head into intermission tied at 1 but with the talented Stars holding a decided territorial and shot advantage.

That would change in the second period as the Predators would light up Niemi for 3 goals and chase him from the game.

Calle Jarnkrok showed some amazing hands to re-direct a James Neal Shot past Niemi to make it 2-1.

Shea Weber unleashed a blast from the blue line that Niemi is still looking for to make it 3-1. Weber's power play goal was his 16th of the season.

Mattias Ekholm slid a backhander past Niemi to end his night and make it 4-1 for the Predators.

The Stars cut the lead to 4-2 late in the second period with a 5 on 3 power play goal by Jason Spezza.

In the third period, James Neal extended the lead to 5-2 with a shot placed short side between the pads of Kari Lehtonen.

Vern fiddler would end the scoring with a goal from the point through traffic for the final margin of 5-3.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed back Shea Weber, who had missed the last 3 games with a lower body injury. Weber lasered a blast from the blue line that just blew past Niemi for a goal. He also picked up 2 assists on the night. He laso unleashed a blast from the face off circle that caused a brief delay as the shot hit Lehtonen in the...uh...man parts. Lehtonen stayed in the game but was in obvious discomfort. It is no wonder that opponents don't want to get in front of Weber's shot when he loads it up.
  • Weber's goal tonight gives him 162 for his career. he is one goal away from tying Martin Erat (163) for second all time for the Predators. Weber has 182 points on the power play (78G-104A) to tie Kimmo Timmonen for first all time in power play points.
  • Balanced scoring and contributions from throughout the line up, and that is what it takes to win games in this league. The Predators forwards were flying on the forecheck and had good break outs that created some scoring chances. As Ryan Johansen said after the game, this team is getting a sense of swagger and it shows.
  • This was the 12th time this season that the Predators have scored 5 or more goals.
  • Craig Smith has been playing some very good hockey lately. He is moving his feet, going to the front of the net, and battling in tough areas for the puck. And he has been rewarded for his efforts. He has 9 points (4G-5A) in his last 11 games.
  • The Predators are 6-1-2 in their last 9 home games against the Stars. The last time the Stars won in regulation in Bridgestone Arena was April 12, 2013.
  • The Predators were 53% in the face off circle.
A strong game by the Predators against a very good Stars team. A balanced attack and, for the most, some solid defense led to this win. Even though Rinne gave up 3 goals, I can't fault him on the 5 on 3 marker and the Fiddler goal through traffic. His confident play has flowed through this squad and it is translating to wins on the ice.

In the ultra competitive West, the Predators will need to keep it rolling.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. James Neal

3. Craig Smith

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