Nashville Predators: Special Teams Disaster Continues in Loss to Dallas

Dallas Stars center Jason Dickinson (18) fights with Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Stars center Jason Dickinson (18) fights with Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

We’ve all heard this story before where the Nashville Predators can’t get out of their own way and continue to struggle badly on special teams.

When playing the defending Western Conference champions like the Dallas Stars, you really can’t gift them with easier way to score. Especially when you’re penalty kill is still one of the worst.

While it was a much more respected effort from the Nashville Predators last night, they still suffered defeat to the Stars. Their third-straight loss in a season where you can fall way behind in the standings quickly.

To the same token, the Predators have the opportunity to turn things around if they can build a little off what they did the third period against the Stars.

The nightmare is playing on repeat

This game opened up painfully similar to the one on Friday night that saw the Predators lose 7-0 to the Stars. It was their season-opener, and the Predators looked ill prepared to handle the intensity.

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The Predators gave up another three power play goals to Dallas on four attempts, bringing Dallas’ two-game total to eight power play goals on 12 attempts. Just insane numbers of success, and futility if you’re the Predators

There’s no sugarcoating this. The Predators will not make the playoffs, and may even flirt with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks for last place in the division, if they don’t show dramatic improvement here.

Both of these losses to Dallas showed the Predators as a pretty decent team when it was 5-on-5 even strength. But sloppy penalties to go along with an atrocious penalty kill spells disaster.

The first power play goal from Roope Hintz was really gut-wrenching as he carried it effortlessly into the Nashville zone as the power play was nearly expired. At this point the game is still 1-0 Dallas and very much an even battle.

Then the unthinkable happens as Hintz fires one past Juuse Saros, even though it initially appeared that Saros made the stop. But somehow the puck worked it’s way through gradually and went over the line for a goal.

Here’s a look at that goal as the Dallas power play was almost expired:

Plain and simple, Saros has to make that save. A soft goal to let by him, and one we needed back at the end.

The score was 2-0 then, and it felt like a repeat of Friday. The Predators did show a valiant effort after that with Filip Forsberg tallying one on the power play for his fourth goal of the season in five games.

Forsberg received a gorgeous pass across the circles and he lasered it past Anton Khudobin.

Build off the third period

The Predators really showed me something in the third period. They left it all out there to not fold. After falling behind 3-1 on another power play goal, this time from the ageless wonder Joe Pavelski, the Predators kept pushing.

A tip-in goal from Mikael Granlund got this game back to a one-goal deficit. It wa.s again a product of Viktor Arvidsson‘s set up.

Arvidsson had an outstanding game with two assists and five shots on goal. He got robbed a couple times trying to score.

The Predators really made the Stars work hard to close this one out. They emptied their net to try to for the equalizer, and nearly connected a few times. The puck just didn’t bounce their way, and once again you can circle special teams for the reason why.

Matt Benning was replaced in the starting lineup for veteran Luca Sbisa, but I didn’t really see anything that gave me confidence that he’s a better option.

Rocco Grimaldi also returned to the starting lineup after being a healthy scratch in the 7-0 beatdown. He managed a couple hits and a block, but nothing offensively.

There’s still plenty of time to turn this thing around, and you can’t overreact to two bad losses to a team that nearly won the Stanley Cup last season. The Predators will match up better with upcoming opponents, and they have to take advantage of that.

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Special teams, and most importantly the penalty kill, has to be the focal point in practices. To a different agree, staying out of the penalty box and keeping it 5-on-5 needs to be a priority.

The Predators basically got exposed in this matchup with Dallas as a team that’s not ready to contend with the big dogs at the table. They have work to do, and are clearly a fringe playoff team at best.

Next up for the Predators is a two-game set with the Chicago Blackhawks starting on Tuesday, and followed by a couple matchups with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and Monday.