Four unanswered goals for the Nashville Predators were more than enough to defeat the Dallas Stars by a 4-1 final on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The victory gives the Preds their first win streak of the young season, having won two in a row to push their record to 2-2-0.
The Predators called the win their “most complete contest of the season” thus far, limiting the Stars’ quality chances, while capitalizing on those of their own at the right time.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The first period – it’s not that we weren’t ready to play or didn’t want to do the right things – the puck didn’t sit our way, it didn’t bounce our way. It looked out of sort a bit. But, fighting through that in the second and third, we managed the puck a bit better which helped us manage the game.”
The Predators found themselves down 1-0 after the first 20 minutes, but a few bounces coupled with an even better effort in the middle frame saw defenseman Samuel Girard score his first NHL goal before Filip Forsberg tallied on the power play for his fourth of the season.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne shut the door on Dallas the rest of the way and Viktor Arvidsson potted his second of the campaign and then P.K. Subban iced it into an empty net.
From here, the Predators travel to Chicago, a building that hasn’t been kind to them in recent memory – except in the 2017 postseason. When talking about the meeting with the Hawks, Rinne couldn’t help but grin at the thought of the next showdown at the United Center.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” Rinne said of the win. “We are .500 right now, and we’re building up more solid games together. That’s our goal, to improve every game. The big word has been ‘consistency’ from the past couple of years, and that’s what we’ve really tried to improve and really tried to focus on. Now we’re going to Chicago next, and it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Feels Like the First Time:
Samuel Girard recorded an assist in his first NHL game on Tuesday night, but that was just the warmup.
The rookie blueliner fired home his first NHL goal and added another helper in Thursday’s 4-1 win over Dallas, giving him three points in his first two career outings. The normally soft-spoken Girard let out a burst of pure elation after taking a feed from P.K. Subban and watching his slap shot fly into the cage, a moment he’ll undoubtedly never forget.
“It was kind of weird to score and afterward get hugged by Subban,” Girard, who is still having some of those ‘pinch me’ moments, said. “It was a nice pass by Subban, he brought all the players to him, just made a good pass, and I just put the puck in the net.”
As if his coach and teammates weren’t already impressed by his training camp, or his preseason outings, or his first NHL game, the raving continued on Thursday night.
“When I think about myself when I was 19, there is no way I could’ve played in this league,” Rinne said. “Guys seem to be more ready the younger they are and they seem to play like men. [Girard] seemed like a veteran player out there.”
Girard also had plenty of responsibility on Thursday as a first-period injury to fellow defenseman Yannick Weber forced Girard and his mates to take on extra minutes. The Quebec native ended up skating a total of 21:25, including 3:45 on the power play, to go along with four shots on goal. Not bad for a teenager who was drafted just two summers ago and is now shining under the bright lights of Broadway.
“He’s able to make plays that are clean plays,” Laviolette said of Girard. “As we were watching through training camp, we’re watching him defend to see if he can handle it. So far, at every turn he has. He’s played against some big lines and some big players. He’s smart, he closes quick. He has a really good stick defensively. He manages his game really well.”
Captain Roman Josi missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day. Forward Colton Sissons returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury with Miikka Salomaki coming out in his place.
Laviolette did not have an update on defenseman Yannick Weber’s status postgame. Weber left the game in the first period after taking a high hit from Martin Hanzal and did not return.
With a goal against the Stars, Filip Forsberg now has four tallies in four games this season. It took him until the 31-game mark last season to score his fourth, and he still ended up with 31 by season’s end.
With the first home stand of the season complete, the Preds now head to Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Saturday night. It’s the first meeting between the two clubs since the Preds swept the Hawks in Round One of the 2017 Playoffs. Nashville then returns home to host Colorado on Tuesday night.