Mattias Janmark, Dallas Stars stop Nashville Predators in OT

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 16, 2016 at 12:10 AM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After floundering through January and losing their Central Division lead, the Dallas Stars have found their stride again in February.

Rookie center Mattias Janmark polished off a three-on-one rush in overtime with a tap-in rebound goal, giving Dallas a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday night at sold-out Bridgestone Arena in a potential playoff preview.

In prevailing for the seventh time in eight games, the Stars (37-15-5) took advantage of a break on their winning sequence. Nashville left winger Filip Forsberg fell just after coming over the boards, leaving defenseman Roman Josi to face all three skaters.

Center Tyler Seguin's wrister was stopped by goalie Carter Hutton (6-2-2), but Seguin got to the rebound and shoveled it to a wide-open Janmark at the right post for his 12th goal at 3:49.

"A heck of a game," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "They had the edge in the first, but we responded well in the second. I thought Hutton made some great saves in the third when we had a chance to separate."

One could make the case that Hutton enabled the Predators, who possess a six-point lead for the final Western Conference playoff spot, to steal a point. Making only his 10th start of the year in place of struggling Pekka Rinne, Hutton finished with 29 saves, including 10 in the third period.

Hutton smothered three point-blank attempts by left winger Jamie Benn with just under 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation, drawing sustained applause from the crowd of 17,113. But there was nothing Hutton could do about Janmark's tally that dropped Nashville to a pitiful 1-9 in games that ended with an overtime goal.

"We've not been good enough," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of the extra-session losses. "Our record isn't good enough. We're letting points slip away."

Nashville (26-21-10) came out the better team, applying steady pressure and finally potting the game's first goal at 11:32 of the first period. Right winger Craig Smith pounced on the rebound of a point shot by defenseman Mattias Ekholm and scored his 12th goal.

The Stars, coming off wins over Central co-leader Chicago and NHL overall points leader Washington, turned momentum with a short-handed goal at 5:42 of the second period.

With left winger Antoine Roussel in the box for slashing, Benn set up center Cody Eakin with a cross-ice pass, and Eakin ripped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle for his 11th goal of the season.

Right winger Ales Hemsky gave Dallas a 2-1 edge at 6:59 of the middle period, taking advantage of a poor defensive coverage and camping out at the right goalpost. Janmark fed Hemsky, who roofed the puck for his seventh goal.

However, the Predators equalized after a giveaway behind the net by defenseman Alex Goligoski. Smith fed Forsberg in the slot and he netted his 19th goal of the season, his fifth in the last five games, at 16:18 of the second period.

While the Stars had more quality chances in the third period and overtime, goalie Antti Niemi (21-10-5) came up with a clutch save in the last 30 seconds of regulation, smothering a wrister from Josi for the last of his 24 saves.

"I thought we played a pretty solid, strong game," Eakin said. "When they get rolling in this building, it's pretty hard to stop them. We fought back and waited for our turns and waited for our opportunities."

When the final opportunity occurred, thanks to what Nashville defenseman Shea Weber called a failed change, Dallas delivered the game-winner.

"We got a (good) transition," Janmark said. "I think a couple of guys on their bench fell and we got a three-on-one and we just tried to stick with it, and Seguin made a good pass."

NOTES: Dallas C Tyler Seguin, who left Saturday night's 4-3 win over Washington when his arm was cut by a skate blade late in the third period, was back in the lineup. ... Nashville D Shea Weber needs one more power-play point to tie Kimmo Timonen atop the franchise's all-time list at 182. ... The Stars scratched LW Curtis McKenzie, along with Ds Jyrki Jokipakka and Jamie Oleksiak. ... The Predators' scratches were D Petter Granberg and C Cody Bass.

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