The Nashville Predators stood tall in their first Central Division matchup against the Dallas Stars.
It was 19-year-old Sam Girard that tied the game at 1-1 with his first career NHL goal in the second period and the Predators didn’t look back from that point forward as they knocked off the Stars 4-1 on Thursday night.
Filip Forsberg’s tally soon after Girard’s goal in the second frame stood as the game winner while Viktor Arvidsson also got in on the scoring action.
Nevertheless, there was nothing but high praise for Girard following the contest. “Sam Girard is a young and up and coming player, he’s fun to watch and I’m so happy for him,” Pekka Rinne said of his teammate. “That’s what we need, I didn’t realize he was that good of a player, and that’s a big break for us when we’re missing [Roman] Josi and Ryan Ellis.”
The young defenseman finished the night with a goal and an assist to go along with an impressive 57.58 Corsi For percentage during 5-on-5 play.
The Stars were the first to get on the board as Jamie Benn scored on the power play 8:04 into the contest after a back-and-forth start.
The Predators would get what was their second shot on the man advantage two minutes later after Martin Hanzal was handed a five-minute major for interference after a high hit on Yannick Weber at the blue line. Nashville was unable to deliver on the extended power play however.
Dallas carried its one goal advantage into the first intermission leading in the shots on goal category 13-10.
The Preds were able to answer early in the second frame thanks to Girard’s blast from the blue line knotting the game at 1-1 just over three minutes into the period. P.K. Subban and Cody McLeod were each credited with assists on the tally.
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Forsberg soon thereafter drew his second tripping minor penalty of the night on Jason Spezza and for the second game in a row the young Swede made the opposition pay on the power play. What was Forsberg’s fourth goal of the season came via crashing in on a rebounded shot from Girard.
Forsberg had just two goals to his name through 22 games last season. “It’s always good to help the team win games and I thought our line played well tonight and that’s all that matters,” Forsberg said. “But obviously it feels good to help the team.”
Nashville controlled the puck for the majority of the middle stanza with momentum on its side after grabbing its first lead of the game. The Preds and Stars each registered 10 shots on net during the period.
Apart from Pekka Rinne making a handful of quality stops, Arvidsson stood to be the only big-time highlight in the final period as he sealed the deal with a breakaway goal, his second of the year, with 4:51 left in regulation. Forsberg stole the puck along the boards and found a streaking Arvidsson with an impressive pass as he was handed the assist on the goal.
The Stars immediately pulled Ben Bishop for the extra attacker, but weren’t able to take advantage. Subban later found the empty net for Nashville with 1:54 left in the contest for his first goal of the season.
Rinne, in what was his 500th career NHL start, ended the night stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced stopping all 25 of the even strength shots that came his way. Dallas was able to create 59 total shot attempts compared to only 53 from Nashville, but it was the Preds that made the most of their chances.
Next up for the Preds is a visit to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Saturday night. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m. CST.