By Amanda DiPaolo
Colin Wilson scored twice and Nashville registered 46 shots on goal but lost 4-2 to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Andrew Raycroft was in net for Dallas. Pekka Rinne takes the loss for Nashville.
For the Predators to end their four-game losing skid, they would need some unlikely heroes to step up and perform in the absence of Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat, David Legwand and Matthew Lombardi, as well as Jordin Tootoo. However, it was Dallas who got key scoring from players not known as offensive threats.
Just two minutes into the game tough guy Wade Belak fought Krystofer Barch after delivering a crushing high hit on Stephane Robidas. The hit on the Stars defenseman was called for interference and was served by Patric Hornqvist.
Dallas struggled to get anything set up and it was the Predators who had a glorious scoring opportunity shorthanded when Raycroft misplayed the puck and was out of position. Nick Spaling tried a wraparound but Robidas was able to make the save. On the rebound, Jerred Smithson couldn’t get the puck up over Robidas who was sprawled out in the crease making saves in his goalie’s absence.
Nashville was awarded a power play opportunity at 4:41 of the first period when Jeff Woywitka was called for roughing Hornqvist after the whistle in front of the Stars net. The Predators had five shots on the man advantage but were unable to connect.
It looked like Nashville going to have another opportunity on the power play late in the period when Krystofer Barch was called for hooking Ryan Suter, but the man advantage was short-lived with Nashville being called 27 seconds later for interference trying to get things set up.
With JP Dumont in the box, Nashville and the Stars were skating four a side.
With the first period winding down, the Predators got another great chance when Colin Wilson was able to pass the puck to a charging Sergei Kostitsyn who was all alone in front of Raycroft on the rush with just 4.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Raycroft spoiled the Predators attempts at end-of-period heroics.
The second period opened with a power play for Nashville. Mark Fistric got called for hooking for taking down Kostitsyn to avoid a 2 on 1 with Linus Klasen. The Predators were not able to score but did spend all but 7 seconds of the minor in the Dallas zone.
The Stars got the first goal when Nashville got stuck deep in their offensive zone. With Kevin Klein and Marcel Goc out of play and unable to take their defensive assignments, Steve Ott snap shot on a Loui Eriksson pass to make it 1-0 at 4:39 into the middle frame.
Nashville would get two more power play opportunities in the second period. Trevor Daley took on interference penalty on Kevin Klein. Nashville had difficult time setting up in the Dallas zone.
Late in the period, Nashville was sent to the power play for the fifth time of the game when Ott slashed Shane O’Brien after the two had fought. With both men in the box for fighting, as well as Aaron Gagnon to serve Ott’s extra minor, Nashville scored on the power play to tie the game at one.
Colin Wilson was able to backhand the puck behind Raycroft on a pass from Dumont and Kostitsyn. It was Wilson’s eighth goal of the season.
After two periods of play, Nashville lead the shot count 33-15.
The Predators opened the final frame with Joel Ward sending Colin Wilson in on a breakaway 30 seconds into the period to give Nashville a 2-1 lead. Nashville’s first lead in several games, it only lasted 1:12 minutes when Dallas tied the game.
James Neal passed the puck to Loui Eriksson who scored on the rush.
Dallas would take control of the game before the final period was half over when two unlikely candidates scored goals to put it out of reach for the Predators.
Fistric and Barch scored less than two minutes apart to make it 4-2 Dallas. Fistric hadn’t scored since October 2009. For Barch, it had been 96 games since last registering a goal.
Fistric’s wrist shot redirected off O’Brien’s stick and into the back of the net passed Rinne. The Barch goal was the result of right wing breaking through both Francis Bouillon and Smithson to join the Dallas rush.
In his NHL debut, Chris Mueller played 3:17 minutes and was a -1 on the night.
Nashville is now losers of five straight games. With injuries to four of Nashville’s top six forwards, as well as Jordin Tootoo being out of the lineup for personal reasons, the Predators need to do something to get back to winning before their chances at the post season will be too far out of reach.
The Predators next play on Friday night in Minnesota.
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