The Dallas Stars opened a four-game homestand with a thud, losing 4-0 to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
“We needed to be better in a lot of areas,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
The Stars lost their second straight game and for the fourth time in their last six games at home, where they are 5-5-1 on the season.
“You have to take care of your games at home,” said Stars forward Ray Whitney, who returned to the lineup after missing 16 games with a broken foot. “It’s a tough schedule right now and everybody’s going to have a big homestand at some point with the amount of games we’re playing. And you’re not going to make the playoffs if you don’t play better at home and use that to your advantage.”
Added Gulutzan: “I think our starts are key. We’ve got to come out and be ready. We did everything right after we were down 2-0, and then we couldn’t score. We played soft. We didn’t go to the hard areas to score. We didn’t force it down their throat. We just thought we’d get some fluff, get a bounce or make a real nice play. You’ve got to jam it down their throat and come out after them. If you are not going to do that, then you are just fluff.”
The Stars outshot the Predators 32-21, but couldn’t get a puck by Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who registered his fifth shutout of the season.
“Putting in those loose pucks would’ve certainly helped. We had some opportunities but Rinne made some good saves,” Whitney said. “We made a couple of errors that ended up in the back of our net.”
Nashville capitalized on a Dallas turnover and a couple of Stars penalties to build a 3-0 lead by the midway point of the game.
Nashville forward Matt Halischuk stole the puck from Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak in the neutral zone and set up Nick Spaling, who scored from the left circle to put Nashville up 1-0 at 12:16 of the first period.
Early in the second, Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon was called for tripping as he tried to throw a check along the boards and 14 seconds later defenseman Shea Weber scored on the power play to put the Predators up 2-0.
Just before the midway point of the second – after the Stars missed on their second power play chance of the game – Nashville’s Richard Clune came out of the penalty box, got to a loose puck, broke in on net and was given a penalty shot after he was pulled down by Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. Clune then scored on the penalty shot to make it a 3-0 game.
“There was a turnover, a couple of penalties you could have avoided and Pekka does the rest,” said Gulutzan.
Gabriel Bourque rounded out the scoring with a power play goal late in the game.
Things got chippy at the end of the game with three fights. Stars forward Eric Nystrom dropped the gloves with Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis. Less than a minute later there were two fights on the same shift as Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas took on Nashville’s Mike Fisher and Stars center Antoine Roussel fought Predators captain Shea Weber.
The loss dropped the Stars to 12-11-2 on the season. Nashville, which opened a five-game road trip on Tuesday, snapped a six-game winless streak on the road.
“It’s a huge trip for us,” said Rinne. “It’s obviously nice to get that first game right away, get a big win. This is what we needed.”
*Stars center Jamie Benn (wrist) and Brenden Morrow (groin) missed Tuesday’s game. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Benn and Morrow are “50-50” for Thursday’s game against Anaheim.
*The Stars put 72 shots towards Nashville’s net Tuesday. Pekka Rinne stopped 32, Nashville skaters blocked 22 and the Stars missed the net on 18 others.
*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play
*The Stars were 2-4 on the penalty kill.
*There were a total of 80 penalty minutes handed out in the game (45 to Dallas; 35 to Nashville)
*The Stars were 32-69 (48%) on faceoffs.
*Bill Guerin was honored as a member of the Dallas Stars 20th Anniversary Team Tuesday night. Guerin dropped the ceremonial opening puck.
*Attendance Tuesday night was 15,661