After 40 minutes of back and forth hockey, the Nashville Predators used the final 20 minutes of Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Stars to pull away from the visitors from and win the game 4-2.
Thanks to third period goals from Steve Sullivan, Patric Hornqvist, and Kevin Klein, Nashville won its third straight, a season-high. The win was the Predators’ first when trailing after two periods this season.
Sullivan and Hornqvist snapped goalless streaks of 11 and 10 games respectively, and Klein’s goal was his first of the season.
“The last four or five games have been better,” Sullivan said. “There was a little bit of a stretch there where things weren’t going good at all.”
Hornqvist seemed similarly relieved to end his double-digit goal scoring drought.
“It was the first time in ten games, I got the bounce right to my stick, so I just put it in,” he said.
The Predators were forced to play come from behind quickly as the Stars jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 3:31 on a power-play goal by Steve Ott.
Although he did not show up on the scoresheet for the first time in three games, Jerred Smithson did make an impact for Nashville.
After Stars defenseman Mark Fistric delivered a high hit on Joel Ward, Smithson jumped in and displayed his displeasure with the hit. Fistric and Smithson were given coincidental roughing minor penalties, and Fistric was given an extra two minutes for interference as a result of the hit on Ward.
On the ensuing power play, Shea Weber scored his fifth goal of the season when he hammered a one-timer from the blue line by Dallas goaltender Alex Auld.
Later Smithson played an integral part of killing off a 49-second Dallas two-man advantage with the Stars leading 2-1 at the time. Smithson was the lone forward on the penalty kill, and the team was further hamstrung when Smithson’s stick broke with Dallas possessing the puck in the Predators’ zone.
A stickless Smithson dove in front of a Brad Richards’ slap shot in the waning seconds of Dallas’ two-man advantage. Not only did the blocked shot deny the Stars a scoring chance, it also enabled the Predators to make the long trip to the bench to change penalty killers.
“Really huge,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the penalty kill. “Smitty got his stick broken and the guys really dug in. If they score there, it is 3-1 and it might be a different story.”
• J.P. Dumont and Dan Hamhuis both posted two assists in the game.
• The Predators recalled forwards Peter Olvecky and Andreas Thuresson from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League Saturday, and both played their first game as a Predator Saturday night. The game was Thuresson’s NHL debut.
Olvecky was recalled earlier Saturday because the team needed help at wing with Martin Erat’s lower-body injury, which kept him out of the lineup for the second straight game.
Thuresson was recalled because the team was unsure if Joel Ward was going to be able to play Saturday night because of an upper-body injury.
Ward played, but Thuresson was put in the lineup in case Ward was unable to play the entire game. Trotz wanted Thuresson’s penalty killing skills available to him if Ward made an early exit.
Both forwards were reassigned to Milwaukee following the game.
• The Predators have five days off before starting their four game road trip Thursday in Anaheim. In addition to the Ducks, the Predators travel to Los Angeles, San Jose, and St. Louis before returning to the Sommet Center Saturday, November 14th when the Montreal Canadiens come to town.
• Shea Weber played just 32-seconds of the third period. He blocked a Brenden Morrow slap shot at the 7:58 mark of the second period that seemed to hobble him some.
Following the game he said that he was fine.
“I got benched,” he joked. “I feel fine.”
“He had lost his edge and just got banged up a little bit, so it was one thing after another, so we just kept his ice time down,” Trotz said.