The Nashville Predators season is on the verge of its conclusion after the Dallas Stars won 5-3 in Game 5 on Saturday.

The Stars scored three times in the 2nd and twice in the 3rd to keep the Preds at bay despite a loud Bridgestone Arena atmosphere. The Preds had the lead early on, but they had no answer for the Stars’ top line.

“They are good players,” Filip Forsberg said of the Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov line after the game. “But at the same time we were playing a little too soft defensively. And obviously a couple of breakdowns on the goals. But yeah, they played a good game.”

“You know that they are dangerous players,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the Stars’ top line. “The mistakes that we made were obvious and once they were made, they were in the back of our net.”

That line combined for seven points on the night and created some of the better offense for the Stars.

At the other end, the Preds just couldn’t get enough quality chances on Ben Bishop to keep up. Peter Laviolette acknowledged that the Preds’ offense was unable to get it done, but also knows where the most important breakdowns were for his team.

“There were looks, there were chances. At the end of the night, I don’t know if it’s going to be a lack of chances or a lack of shots or a lack of attempts or a lack of quality chances, all of that is going to be there. I think when we look back on this game, we’re gonna look at the mistakes we made and realize that that’s what we have to clean up.”

An Early Lead Disappears Quickly

The Stars started this game the way they wanted. They had an aggressive forecheck and forced the Preds in their zone for much of the first 10 minutes.

But the Preds broke through first after Rocco Grimaldi took a transition pass from Roman Josi and buried it past Ben Bishop.

That certainly got the Bridgestone Arena crowd going, but the Stars answered on a goal by Jason Dickinson. Too much time in the Preds zone allowed Roope Hintz to make a nice pass from behind the goal line to Dickinson, who was wide open in the slot.

Pekka Rinne had to clean up more than just a few Preds defensive mistakes in order to keep the game even after 20 minutes.

The 2nd period was a virtual disaster for the Preds. Alexander Radulov scored 40 seconds into the period off a brilliant pass by Tyler Seguin. Then he scored again about six minutes later to make it 3-1 Stars.

Though Ryan Johansen made it 3-2 with a beautiful top shelf goal over Ben Bishop, the Stars responded again. Tyler Seguin took a pass from Jamie Benn and pocketed home an easy goal by Pekka Rinne to make it 4-2.

The Stars’ top line had its way with the Preds’ top line all night. They combined for seven points and were involved in three of the Stars’ five goals.

Jason Dickinson gave the Stars a three goal lead early in the 3rd period. That might have sealed it for the Stars. Though Kyle Turris got the Preds back within two scores a few minutes later, the Stars held fast for the rest of the game.

Game 6 Prediction?

Though the team we all watched on the ice on Saturday looked quite over-matched, there was a decidedly positive spin on the Preds’ current situation by two key members of the locker room.

Pekka Rinne, who didn’t play awful in the game, finishing with 21 saves on 26 shots, thinks the team still has a chance to win the series.

“It sounds like the series is already done with, which it’s not,” Rinne said after the game. “It’s far from that. We still have a lot of life left. Like I said, I feel like for us it’s a good situation, we know that we haven’t done our best, we haven’t played our best. There’s a lot of room to improve.”

The most interesting quote of the night came from Peter Laviolette himself. He gave what can only be considered a “guarantee” of the Preds returning home next Wednesday for Game 7.

“We’ve been put in these situations and positions before. They’ve answered the bell, they’ll answer the bell in Game 6 and we’ll bring it back here.”

It’s hard to see where Laviolette sees this group as capable of winning two straight against the Stars at this point. But give him and Rinne marks for confidence following the Nashville Predators worse loss on home ice since last year’s Game 7 against the Jets.

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —


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