The Dallas Stars went into Wednesday’s game knowing a loss to the Predators would be a step in the wrong direction, after reaching last year's Western Conference Finals.
Moreover, having had a rough preseason and losing two early regular-season heartbreakers, the Stars needed tonight's win. Tonight served as a venue for the Stars and their players—Fabian Brunnstrom in particular—to silence their critics across the league.
The first frame had a lot of good, even-played hockey. Dallas got just as many valuable chances as Nashville, including one near-goal by Sean Avery that bounced off a Predator defenseman in front of the net. First blood was drawn by Dallas with a late-period goal by Stéphane Robidas at 19:50 on the power play.
The second period was a scoring frenzy for both teams. Mike Modano scored on a tip in from B.J. Crombeen and James Neal 29 seconds in, giving Modano his second point of the game, having assisted on Robidas' initial goal.
Radek Bonk scored on a tip-in to get Nashville on the board at 3:56, and Nashville tied the game at two at 9:04 of the second on a goal from Patric Hornqvist. From there on out, it was basically the Fabian Brunnstrom show.
Brunnstrom lit the lamp for his first NHL goal at 11:45, with assists from Toby Petersen and Philippe Boucher. Ryan Jones of the Predators matched Brunnstrom to tie the game at three. Brunnstrom, it appears, decided a tie wasn’t a suitable result for his new team, and scored again at 14:13 on a wrist shot with assists from linemates Brad Richards and Sean Avery.
In the third period, both teams were yet again heated in battle, and evenly matched except for the scoreboard—until Martin Erat scored a goal to tie it for Nashville at 10:59. From all angles but one, it looked like Turco makes the save, but the final view showed the puck just barely crossed the line.
Brunnstrom decided he was completely ready for the NHL, and lit the lamp for a hat-trick at 16:35, on a wrist shot with assists from Brad Richards and Nicklas Grossman. The always smooth-skating Mike Modano scored on the empty net at 19:56 to seal the 6-4 victory for the Stars.
The Stars will immediately leave for St. Louis, whom they face tomorrow night. The Stars will look to record their second win in two days against assist-leading Andy McDonald and his St. Louis Blues.
Ken Armer's original preview of the game against Nashville can be found here.
Image: Courtesy of the Dallas Stars website
Full box score: Courtesy of NHL.com