Behind a 22-save shutout by goaltender Dan Ellis, and a second-period goal by J.P. Dumont, the Nashville Predators earned their first win in Dallas since March 7, 2003, blanking the Stars 1-0 for just the second win in team history at American Airlines Arena.
It was the first time Nashville had won a game in which only one goal was scored since Nov. 11, 2006 in a 1-0 white washing of Colorado. Dallas entered the game red hot, having won eight of the last nine games, averaging more than four goals per game in that span.
For Dumont, it was his second game-winning goal in the last three Nashville wins, while Ellis notched the third shutout of his career, and the 2007-08 season against the team that originally drafted him in the second round of the 2000 Entry Draft..
"It always has some extra meaning when you play an organization that you were with for your whole pro career," Ellis said. "I loved being a Dallas Star and have the utmost respect for their organization but tonight was an opportunity to play for the Predators. They're the ones that gave me a shot in the NHL."
Both teams came out of the gate firing, using virtually every free shooting lane to put the puck on net. The first prime scoring chance came via Predators forward Scott Nichol while out killing a penalty. Nichol stole the puck in his own zone and put on the afterburners, outskating the flat-footed Stars point men to gain a clear-cut breakaway. He was hooked down from behind creating a penalty-shot opportunity at 6:35, but his strategy of swinging wide and trying to catch the goaltender going down early failed, as Dallas’ Marty Turco improved to 8-for-9 on penalty shots against in his career.
The remainder of the opening period produced plenty of shots but few real chances. Ville Koistinen came closest with a one timer that rang off the outside of the post on Nashville’s second power-play opportunity, and the Preds outshot the Stars 9-6 through 20 minutes.
The opening 10 minutes of the second frame produced more of the same – cautious, defensive-minded play with neither team taking many chances. The spark plug Nichol nearly struck again shorthanded while killing Dallas’ fifth man-advantage opportunity, this time putting a breakaway shot into Turco’s glove at 10:50.
Strangely enough, through five Stars power plays, the home team had no shots, while the Preds had garnered six shorthanded shots on goal. While Turco was forced to make flashy saves on Nashville players coming in all alone, Ellis quietly went about his business in the Nashville net, confidently turning aside all 11 shots he faces through 40 minutes.
"He played a real good game," head coach Barry Trotz said of Ellis. "I thought we played a really good game in front of him. He made a couple of big saves when we needed them and got the job done. I'm really happy for Ellie. He's been a real good story for us this year."
(From Left) J.P. Dumont, Alexander Radulov and Jason Arnott celebrate the lone goal of the game, scored by Dumont at 16:42 of the second period.
The Nashville offense, meanwhile, turned the up the heat in the waning moments of the second period, and were finally rewarded for all the pressure at the 16:42 mark. Dumont was in the right place at the right time to get the Predator goal, knocking home a quick centering feed that Alexander Radulov threw in front from behind the goal line. Jason Arnott fired the initial shot on goal that went wide and ended up on Radulov’s stick, earning him the secondary assist.
"I pretty much didn't get anything on it," Dumont said of his goal. "Radulov made a good play and I just found an opening there. It hit my stick and I shot it. It was a big goal and after that, we never looked back."
Dumont’s goal was his seventh point and fifth marker in the last eight games, while Arnott’s helper gave him 10 points (5g-5a) in the same span. Radulov’s assist extended an active point streak to four contests (3g-2a).
Nashville dominated the shots board through two periods thanks to a 15-5 differential in the second frame.
The Predators continued their careful play in the final period of regulation, only doing it while protecting a lead. The visitors successfully killed one more Dallas power play – and six total for the game – while consistently lining three players up at their own blue line to stymie incoming rushes.
With Turco yanked for the extra attacker, Dallas had one final scramble in front of the Nashville net as the seconds ticked down, but Ellis had an answer for everything the Stars through at him to earn the shutout.
Nashville outshot Dallas 30-22 for the game.
The Predators now have a few days of practice to tune up for a Thursday-night clash with the Edmonton Oilers. This is the first time in 2007-08 the Oilers visit the Music City, and tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging on to nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office located in the arena tower. Kids get in for just a dollar with paid adult when they bring a non-perishable food item to the game.
Goalie Dan Ellis shrugs off traffic in front created by Loui Eriksson and defender Dan Hamhuis to make one of his 22 shots on the evening.
Game Notes: With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber currently on the injured reserve list, Nashville scratched David Legwand and recently called up Josh Langfeld. Dallas chose not to dress Brad Winchester, Mark Fistric and Jussi Jokinen… Dallas had won seven straight home games vs. the Preds dating back to April 3, 2003 before tonight… Nashville is 15-2-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 6-6-0 when tied after one period and 12-1-0 when leading after 40 minutes of play… The shutout was the fourth of the season for the Predators and the 42nd in franchise history… Greg Zanon blocked a game-high six shots, while fellow d-man Dan Hamhuis paced the team in both hits (5) and ice time (26:45). The ice-time total was the highest a Predator has logged in a game decided in regulation this season… These teams meet for the next time on Feb. 23 at the Sommet Center.
1 - 0 NSH
Delaying Game - Puck over glass
Holding the stick