– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
DALLAS — There is atoning for your mistakes, and then there is what Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm did on Saturday to make amends for his team and continue what could end up becoming a historic winning streak.
After taking a penalty just before the start of overtime, Ekholm returned to the ice from his time served and scored the game-winning overtime goal, lifting the Predators to a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars, Nashville’s eighth away win out of eight road games to start the season.
Nashville was only able to force overtime after defenseman Roman Josi scored a power play with 43 seconds remaining to tie the game at four, but almost immediately found itself down a man when Ekholm was called for a cross checking penalty with 14 seconds left in regulation.
But with Nashville’s rich vein of form away from the Music City, good things were bound to happen still. Not only did the Predators kill off the penalty, center Kyle Turris then found a streaking Ekholm after leaving the penalty box, with Ekholm beating Stars goalie Ben Bishop high to Bishop’s glove to seal the come-from-behind win.
“A good regroup by [P.K. Subban] up to [Turris] and he found me,” said Ekholm, who scored his third goal of the season. “It was nice to go in.”
The Predators’ undefeated run on the road to start the season is now the third-longest streak to begin a season in NHL history, only trailing the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres (10) and the 2009-10 New Jersey Devils (nine) in league annals.
Earning the win today looked bleak for Nashville after the Stars took a 3-1 lead after two periods, but center Ryan Johansen and defenseman Yannick Weber scored in the first 1:54 of the third period to tie the game at 3-all.
“No game is ever out of reach if you can do the right things,” said Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. “I thought the first shift of the third period was really big by the Johansen line. They went down, got a goal and, shortly, another one after that.”
Dallas retook the lead at 8:58 of the third period when a shot from the point by defenseman Ben Gleason, making his NHL debut, glanced off the knee of fellow Stars rookie Denis Gurianov and flew past Predators goalkeeper Juuse Saros to give Dallas a 4-3 advantage.
Though the Stars played without a number of first-team players, including top defenseman John Klingenberg, who is expected to miss four weeks after surgery on his broken left hand, they held their own against the team with the league’s best record, withstanding being outshot 14-4 in the first period and, through Tyler Pitlick’s wrist shot at 13:05, scoring the only goal in the first period.
Ryan Hartman tied the game just 12 seconds into the second period, but then the Stars were able to build a two-goal advantage afterward on goals by centers Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, the latter playing in his 1,000th career NHL game.
Dallas continues its home stand with a visit from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night, while, on the same night, the Predators look to make it nine in a row on the road to start the season when it visits Anaheim.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 21 pictures in total.