It was a wild game at Bridgestone Arena tonight as the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars exchanged the lead several times before the Preds tied the game in the third period and won it in overtime.
There was plenty of action in the first period but just one goal. (PHOTO: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
I was actually at the game tonight, sitting in Section 303 for the first time in 12 years of going to Preds games. The first period was a pretty sedate affair, with only Craig Smith’s goal at 13:43 leaving a mark on the score sheet. But the second period got ugly and did so in a hurry.
The Stars’ Matt Fraser scored his first NHL goal at 1:20 and was followed at 1:45 by Reilly Smith to make the game 2-1, evoking up shades of last Monday’s loss to Colorado. Then Roman Josi struck at 3:05 to tie things up at 2-2. Then, with Martin Erat already in the box for holding, Mike Fisher got whistled for high-sticking and former Pred Vernon Fiddler scored for Dallas at 7:29 on a nice shot from the left circle with the extra attacker on, making it 3-2 Dallas. That negated Erat’s penalty but Fisher was given a double minor. Loui Eriksson scored on the first half to make it a 4-2 game, but the Preds managed to kill off the second half to stop the bleeding.
Shea Weber got mean – and bloody – and it fired up the Nashville Predators in the process. (PHOTO: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
It was just after that when things got ugly. After a whistle to stop play in the Dallas zone, Eric Nystrom egged Brandon Yip on until he dropped the gloves; Nystrom was hit with an unsportsmanlike minor in addition to his fighting major, and the Preds went on the power play. Then, already up a man, the Preds got to go 5-on-3. Fiddler and Fisher tangled for coincidental roughing minors, but Fiddler got an unsportsmanlike of his own to fill the Dallas box with three players. Somehwhere in the middle of all this tussling, Shea Weber got hit in the face and was left with blood on his face for the rest of the game. Patric Hornqvist scored at 13:43, just before the 5-on-3 was set to expire, and the Preds had pulled the game back to 4-3.
Dallas would hold the lead until Mike Fisher came through with an incredible individual effort, the kind which has eluded him on a regular basis pretty much this entire season. He looked calm and collected with two Dallas defenders draped over him and burned Cristopher Nilstorp to tie the game at 4-4. Lots of chances back and forth resulted in nothing before overtime began.
Dallas won the opening faceoff in overtime and carried into the Nashville zone but couldn’t manage a shot. Sergei Kostitsyn picked up the puck in the neutral zone and carried it into the zone before finding Roman Josi behind the play, just inside the left blue line. Josi wound up a slapper and let it rip, beating Nilstorp high blocker-side for the game-winner.
It was just 21 seconds later that Yip fought Nystrom after being instigated, giving Nashville the first of the two penalties that would put them at 5-on-3 for nearly a minute and a half. When Hornqvist scored, it was all thanks to Weber stepping up and getting mean precisely when it was called for.
Roman Josi becomes the fourth Nashville Predators defenseman to score four points in a single game. (PHOTO: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)
How big a game was this for Roman Josi? His two goals and two assists give him 23 points for his 72-game career, which means he had 17.4 percent of his total NHL production tonight. He’s still got a long way to go on his development path, which is incredibly exciting because he’s already quite good.