The Hockey Gods answered the Nashville Predators prayers in Game 3

After Game 3, the Nashville Predators have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars.

Game Summary

First period highlights

The Dallas Stars defence looked fragile to open the game. The Nashville Predators attack was relentless jumping out to a 9-1 lead in shots on goal less than eight minutes into the game. Nashville blue-liner P.K. Subban sets the tone early, standing up Stars captain Jamie Benn just outside the defensive zone. A power play less than five minutes into the game and sustained momentum and pressure set things up for the predators to take control.

The only Dallas players that looked ready-to-roll in the opening half of the period were net-minder Ben Bishop and trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello. Bishop made key saves, allowing the Stars to find their footing in their first home playoff date of the year. Zuccarello was able to buzz around the offensive zone largely of his own doing with no help from his team.

About 13 minutes into the game, things started taking a turn as the Stats and Predators both begin to engage much more physically and the Stars finally find their game. A never-ending forecheck by the Stars begins to even out the scoring chances but the physicality becomes the story of the period.

The officiating seemed to let the players to engage physically and putting their whistles away a bit after each team received a power play in the first ten minutes. By the end of the period, the Dallas Stars had brought the scoring chances closer to even and the Predators controlling shots 14-10.


Tweet courtesy of @thePointHockey

Second Period highlights

The middle frame opened with the Stars jumping on the Predators. Dallas was able to sustain pressure and work around the offensive zone. Pekka Rinne was able to stop the first few shots of the period, looking calm and collected.

The Predators finally gain control of the puck and winger Rocco Grimaldi, who had a goal in game two, streaks up the boards into the Dallas zone. Firing a shot at Bishop in an effort to create a rebound for the forwards crashing the net, Bishop’s effort to hide the puck to the opposite corner ended up deflecting the puck into his own net. Grimaldi fortunate to put the Predators up 1-0.


Tweet courtesy of @PredsNHL

Shortly after the Nashville goal, Dallas gets an opportunity with the man advantage. Almost immediately Nashville penalty killer Nick Bonino commits a tripping penalty sending the stars to a long 5-on-3 power play. The power play was able to create chance after chance with Pekka Rinne standing tall, killing off the entirety of both penalties, pushing the Dallas power play to 0-for-9 over game two and three.

Thanks to the extended power play and the long 2-man advantage, the Stars were outshooting the Predators 24-17 with 12 minutes played in the second period. Following the power plays however, the Stars began to sag in play again, allowing the Predators to bide their time and return to their game plan.

On a long flip pass from the defensive zone, Nick Bonino sends Filip Forsberg into the Dallas zone. Forsberg powers to the net, using his underrated strength on the puck to drive pst Bishop while holding off the defender to tuck the puck into the Dallas net. Stars fall behind by two.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLGIFs

Much like the first period, Dallas’ best skater on the ice continued to be Zuccarello. The diminutive forward finally cracked the Nashville goaltender with under three minutes to play in the second period. With a perfect reception of a stretch pass from Stars top defencemen John Klingberg, Zuccarello true to imitate the move Forsberg had just pulled at the other end of the ice, scoring to make the game a one goal affair heading into the intermission.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLGIFs

Third Period highlights

The final period of regulation begins with Dallas on a power play thanks to an Austin Watson penalty with less than 30 seconds left in the second. The Star only generated two shots on goal with the extra man, with neither being particularly dangerous. The momentum from the power play helped maintain pressure for the Dallas but a stellar defensive shift from Subban and Mattias Ekholm prevent anything from manifesting.

With play evening out a bit during the middle of the third period, both teams create chances and the play goes back and forth. Both Rinne and Bishop make save after save, each trying to hold their team in the game as Dallas tries to score to tie and Nashville tries to get an insurance goal.

After just over eight minutes to play, an odd play behind the net where Subban winds up riding the back of Alexander Radulov in what probably should have been a penalty, resulted in Benn recovering the puck and putting it on a tee for Tyler Seguin who makes no mistake, tying the game at two as the Stars begin to control play.


Tweet courtesy of @JDajani247

In a game that seemingly turned in the Stars favour, the hockey gods seemed to have different ideas. After Dallas is denied by Pekka Rinne on an asinine save, Mikael Granlund scores his first of the playoffs and second as a Predator since being acquired at the deadline.

Tweet courtesy of @NHLGIFs

For more evidence that the hockey gods played a role in the latter half of this game, look no further than John Klingberg’s stick shattering as he attempted to one-time a puck with his goalie pulled. Possibly the puck that bounced around the crease for seconds while sticks whacked away to no avail or a shot off the post that fell directly in Rinne’s laps. The game ended with the Dallas Stars pressuring as they had been for the entire second half of the game but coming up short. Nashville takes relief that the escape with a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.

Hero of the Game

Pekka Rinne was a star tonight. The Vezina-winning goalie played like it tonight. With numerous great saves, he was the biggest reason that the Predators were even in this game. While the team played well in the first period, the Stars dominated the last two. Facing 42 shots and only allowing the two, Rinne was the MVP for the night. His saves were spectacular at times as he flipped flopped in the net in desperation, knowing he couldn’t allow another. Pekka gets the cape for the night as the Predator’s hero.

My Team Villain

The real villain that plagued the Dallas Stars wasn’t anyone on the Predators. It was the “hockey gods” themselves. Every puck bounce in this game seemed to go Nashville’s way. Two flukey goals and a close to offside goal for the Predators and multiple posts and a show put on by the opposing goaltender resulted in a game that the Stars probably walk away from feeling like they were robbed. While there isn’t anything that Nashville did in particular to win this game, the Stars certainly don’t feel as if they deserved to lose it.

Three Stars of the Game

🌟 NSH G Pekka Rinne, 40 saves, 2 goals against, .952 S%

🌟🌟 DAL C Tyler Seguin, 1G, 11 SOG, 67.8% CF%

🌟🌟🌟 DAL RW Mats Zuccarello, 1G, 2 SOG, 71.4% CF%

Where do they go from here?

Image courtesy of Point Hockey

The Dallas Stars dominated this game. They were able to weather a first period attack from the Predators and the. Took over for the final two frames. The hockey gods didn’t reward the Stars for their effort and they were extremely unlucky by coming out of this game with a win. If Dallas plays the rest of the series like they did in game three, they should take this series. Nashville looked uninspired outside of Rinne and their defensive pairing of Subban and Ekholm. The graphic above from the Point Hockey shows just how dominant the Stars were in this game. The only change that the Stars need to make is beating Pekka Rinne a few more times.

For more on the NHL, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and info is from nhl.comhockey-reference.com, theScore.com, Point Hockey and Naturalstattrick.com

Feature image is credited to Nikos Michals

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Author: Tony Ferrari

Born in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Windsor, Tony has loved hockey his entire life. Growing up as the lone Maple Leafs fan in a household of Red Wings fans, he followed both teams since he was a child. Having been through Toronto’s rebuild as a fan, Tony is ecstatic to be along for the ride and watch the Wings get back to their glory days. Having previously written about the Detroit Lions, Tony looks forward to bringing you content from the hockey world in a series of deep dive articles and analytical points of view that can help you better understand the little things we don’t all notice because they don’t show up on the stats sheet.