DALLAS (AP) - Jason Arnott had an early goal, Michael Santorelli scored the winner in a shootout and the Nashville Predators handed the Stars their first season-opening loss in Dallas with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.
Arnott scored against his former team less than 2 minutes into the game when he crammed in his own rebound after a wraparound shot was stopped by Marty Turco. Arnott caused another rebound that Steve Sullivan slipped under Turco for a 2-0 lead in the second period.
The Stars entered the game 7-0-2 in season openers in Dallas.
Dallas looked out of sync for two periods in the first game under new coach Marc Crawford, but pulled even when James Neal scored twice in less than 5 minutes spanning the second and third periods.
Neal's first goal was an off-balance flip of a rebound with 9.3 seconds left in the second. Neal tied the score 4:05 into final period when a pass attempt from Nashville goalie Dan Ellis ended up on his stick for an easy shot.
|Big Names Lead Preds In Opening Night Win|
|All Training Camp Barry Trotz stated the key to the season is for the Preds top players to be difference makers every game. The top guns stepped up big in Nashville's season opening win at Dallas.
Jason Arnott scored the game's opening goal and assisted on Nashville's other goal. Steve Sullivan netted the Preds second goal. JP Dumont, the third member of the line, assisted on the game's opening goal. And when Dumont left the game early in the second period, Patric Hornqvist slid in and helped create Sullivan's goal. Arnott, Sullivan, and Dumont/Hornqvist combined for 10 of the Preds 26 shots on goal.
In the shootout, David Legwand – who won 12-of-19 faceoffs in the game and was strong cycling the puck all game long – converted Nashville's third attempt to extend the shootout to extra shots, where linemate Mike Santorelli converted in the fifth round to win it for the Preds.
Dan Ellis was a difference maker in net, stopping 38-of-40 shots, including 17 saves in the third period and overtime. Further, Ellis stopped four of the five Dallas shootout attempts – turning aside Brad Richards (a former Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP), Mike Modano (the leading US-born scorer in NHL history), and Loui Eriksson (a 36-goal scorer last season) in succession to close out the shootout win.
And don't forget the work of Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber along the blueline. Weber logged a game-high 28:37 of ice time with four hits and two blocked shots. Suter saw 27:44, second-most in the game. Hamhuis skated 27:30, third-most in the game, including a game-high 5:16 shorthanded ice time.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
The Stars sent a steady barrage at Ellis in the third period, ultimately getting 39 shots to 26 for the Predators. But Ellis turned away back-to-back power plays midway through the final period, and made a good save on a strong chance for Mike Rebeiro at the 5:30 mark.
Dallas had to survive a Nashville power play for the final 35 seconds of regulation after Turco turned away a great scoring chance for Sullivan. Brad Richards was called for slashing trying to prevent a goal on the rebound.
The Stars' Karlis Skrastins had a breakaway chance in the final seconds but missed wide.
Both teams had to fight off 4-on-3 power plays in overtime, and Turco made a solid stop on a Martin Erat shot with a little more than a minute remaining.
Stars winger Loui Eriksson was quiet the day after signing a six-year, $25.5 million contract extension. He didn't have a shot through two periods and looked sluggish trying to break away for a scoring chance in the third.
For two periods, the Stars looked like a team in transition, which they are because Crawford wants an attacking style that's quite different from the conservative approach of former coach Dave Tippett, who was fired when Dallas missed the playoffs a year after reaching the Western Conference finals.
Dallas seemed to warm up in the third, moving the puck more smoothly and keeping the pressure on Ellis, who came up through the Stars' farm system.
NOTES: Stars C Mike Modano left the ice briefly with an apparent injury with 2 minutes left in overtime but was back on the bench during the shootout. ... Nashville RW J.P. Dumont left the game with injury early in the second period. ... Stars RW Jere Lehtinen missed the opener while still nursing hip and groin injuries. He went through a full practice for the first time Friday and could play Tuesday at Edmonton. ... Predators RW Jordin Tootoo was out with a groin injury.