– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
DALLAS — The Nashville Predators peppered their opponent on Tuesday with almost 50 shots on goal, but the most harmless-looking of attempts happened to be the one that turned out to be the game winner.
With the game tied going into the third period, Predators defenseman and captain Roman Josi scored both goals in the third period, one on a deflection and an empty netter, in leading Nashville to a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
On Josi’s game-winning goal, which came during a 4-on-4 situation at the 7:35 mark of the third, he skated around the Stars’ net before unleashing a wrist shot from the slot that deflected off of two Stars players, Esa Lindell and Mattias Janmark, before blooping into the air and landing past a sprawling Anton Khudobin in goal to give the Predators the lead for good.
With 31 seconds remaining, Josi scored from his own end of the into an empty net to give Nashville just its second win in six and move the Predators to within a point of the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division.
“It was a lucky bounce off my stick and maybe someone else, too,” said Lindell, who had a power play goal and an assist in a losing effort. “That’s what happens when you shoot the puck and put it on net. You get the lucky ones, too.”
Despite carrying the play for most of the game, it was the Stars who were up 3-2 late in the second period after the power play goal from Lindell and a tally from Tyler Seguin came just 26 seconds apart, the latter coming with 2:05 remaining in the middle frame. Just 21 seconds after Seguin’s goal, however, Filip Forsberg tied the game after settling the puck down on a speculative shot from the point defenseman Ryan Ellis before putting a backhand past Khudobin to tie the game right before the second intermission.
“[That goal] was huge,” said Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. “They get the power play goal and immediately score after. That’s when something could get away from you.”
The game did get away from the Stars after Forsberg’s goal, failing to put the puck past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with any of their 13 shots in the third period. Dallas, which came into the game without a goal in 145:43 on the heels of back-to-back shutout losses, scored all of its goals tonight in the second period.
“We can’t give up momentum goals,” said Stars head coach Jim Montgomery. “We go up 3-2 and can’t give up that [tying] goal right away.”
Rinne made 36 saves for the Predators, who also received goals from the newly-acquired Brian Boyle in the first to open the game’s scoring and from Rocco Grimaldi in the second for a 2-1 Nashville lead.
Jason Spezza tied the game up 3:31 into the second for the Stars with his 331st career goal, his first tally since Dec. 29. Both Spezza and Lindell had a goal and an assist while Khudobin made 42 saves in defeat for the Stars.