As the old Mary Chapin Carpenter song goes, “Sometimes you’re the windshield/Sometimes you’re the bug.” It hasn’t happened very often this season, but the Dallas Stars had a windshield night Thursday, downing the Nashville Predators, 5-2, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates.
Fans in Dallas were treated to quite a show, as Jamie Benn scored his 200th career goal, Antoine Roussel notched a goal and an assist while driving Predators Roman Josi and Mike Ribeiro to distraction, and the Stars “bugged” goalie Pekka Rinne early and often, sending him to the bench early in the second period. “Sometimes it all comes together,” sang Ms. Carpenter, and that’s exactly what happened for the home team Thursday night.
Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak set the tone early, registering four hits on his first shift of the night.
“It’s that type of compete that takes the edge off an opponent,” said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, adding “I thought our compete was the best it’s been all year.”
Dallas knocked the visitors back on their heels early, before Benn found the back of the net at the 9:55 mark to put the Stars on the board.
Just 23 seconds later, Brett Ritchie tallied his seventh goal of the season to pad the Stars’ lead. Though outshot, 15-6, in the opening frame, Nashville did manage to “chip the windshield” with a Viktor Arvidsson shorthanded goal off the rush created by John Klingberg’s broken stick.
The Arvidsson goal gave the Preds a surge of adrenaline, but the Stars came out determined not to repeat the mistakes made in the middle frame against Calgary two nights ago. Just over three minutes in, Jason Spezza scored his first goal since Nov. 3, and did so with a bit of flair.
Just over two minutes later, Antoine Roussel emerged from the penalty box to end Rinne’s night with a chip-in of a sapient pass from Lauri Korpikoski.
Nashville outshot Dallas, 21-13, in the second period, but the Stars kept scoring chances to a minimum and netminder Kari Lehtonen proved Arvidsson’s goal, which trickled through the goalie’s glove, was a one-off.
Late in the period, a Radek Faksa goal was disallowed following a Nashville challenge for goalie interference, but Preds defenseman Adam Pardy was sent to the box for hooking Ritchie. Tyler Seguin sent a wrister from the left circle past backup netminder Marek Mazanec to put the game out of reach.
The Predators entered the final period deflated and appeared ready to concede the contest to the home team. While the Stars let up a bit offensively, they maintained their focus in the defensive zone throughout the game. Shots were even at nine apiece, though Calle Jarnkrok beat Lehtonen short-side high off the rush with just under five minutes remaining to make the score 5-2.
As is to be expected in a game like this between division rivals, a scrum broke out as the final horn sounded. In the end, though, the Stars skated away with smiles on their faces, a welcome sight in Big D.
DAL – Jamie Benn (8) assisted by Tyler Seguin (19) and Jason Spezza (8)
DAL – Brett Ritchie (7) assisted by Antoine Roussel (10) and Radek Faksa (7)
NSH – Viktor Arvidsson (9) (SHG) assisted by Austin Watson (4)
DAL – Jason Spezza (5) assisted by Dan Hamhuis (6) and Jamie Benn (15)
DAL – Antoine Roussel (5) assisted by Lauri Korpikoski (5) and John Klingberg (11)
DAL – Tyler Seguin (10) (PPG) assisted by Jamie Benn (16) and Jason Spezza (9)
NSH – Calle Jarnkrok (5) assisted by Mike Ribeiro (15) and Marek Mazanec (1)
THW Three Stars
First: Jason Spezza (1 goal, 2 assists)
Second: Antoine Roussel (1 goal, 1 assist)
Third: Jamie Benn (1 goal, 2 assists)
Dallas Stars at Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center – 12:00 p.m. CST on Saturday, December 10
Broadcast channels: FS-SW, CSN-PH, SN1
2016-17 Season Series: First Matchup of the Season
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.