Preds Pick Up Character Win In Dallas
Monday, 02.20.2012 / 1:41 PM
Barry Trotz spoke at length yesterday prior to Nashville's game at Dallas about how he viewed this game as a litmus test for the Preds. After losing in the waning seconds against Detroit the Predators felt the disappointment they had shown so many opponents previously in come-from-behind wins. Dropping what seemed like at least one very important point in the standings with less than six seconds left stung. The question that hung heavily in the air in Dallas Sunday morning was would the Predators respond by showing the confidence and ability that had brought the team this far, or would the mental effects still linger?
To be sure, the Stars put on a solid performance, but Nashville was able to triumph in a tight-checking, and at times desperate game. Dallas is scratching and clawing along with several teams within the pack struggling to earn or maintain one of the bottom few playoff spots. They're battling injuries much like the Preds and received very good goaltending from Kari Lehtonen. In the end, the it was a timely power play goal from Shea Weber and good puck possession towards the end of the game that enabled the Preds to hold off the charging Stars.
That win will show itself as a big one down the stretch, not only to realize the importance of bouncing back, but also that once again different parts stepped up to make a difference. Of course the captain scored, but Matt Halischuk played well and surpassed his season time on ice average in the second period. Not only did he contribute defensively, but Halischuk set up one goal and almost scored another (it was called back for going in off his glove). Colin Wilson looked strong in the game, playing hard along the wall and late in the third period his two-man cycle with Jordin Tootoo really helped take out a big chunk of time while Dallas was getting more and more desperate. Hal Gill's Preds debut showed him at +2 on the night, and despite taking Nashville's only minor of the game late in the contest he looked good in his debut.
Other names floated to the top to help out on a night when Mike Fisher was out sick and David Legwand was feeling far less than 100% with a similar cold, forcing the Preds to dress seven defensemen and only 11 forwards (Patric Hornqvist and Bryan McGrattan did not make the road trip because of previous injuries).
Yes, the Predators overcame some obstacles and came out with a win. And these will all be important markers coming down the stretch for this team – every milepost represents yet another step taken towards a greater goal of playoff success.