The Nashville Predators have made themselves at home in the Lone Star State, following up on a pair of regular-season wins in Dallas with another road victory in their Western Conference first-round series against the Stars.
Nashville, which owns a 2-1 series lead, will look to continue its good fortune in Dallas and push the Stars to the brink of elimination when the Central Division rivals play Game 4 on Wednesday.
Reigning Vezina Trophy recipient Pekka Rinne turned aside 40 shots — including all seven he faced in an extended short-handed stretch during the second period — to preserve a 3-2 win on Monday night.
“You don’t want to go too far ahead of yourself,” said the 36-year-old Rinne, who also made 36 saves in Nashville’s 5-3 win in Dallas on Feb. 19.
“It’s a slippery road in the playoffs. … It’s a huge win for us after going down in Game 1, but I don’t want to talk about momentum or anything like that because it’s such a dangerous thing. You lose that grip right away when you start thinking about it, so I think we have to prepare for Game 4 like it’s Game 1 or Game 7.”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette credited Rinne’s resolve — as well as his pad save on a point-blank chance from Stars captain Jamie Benn in the third period — as reasons for Nashville taking the lead in a series that features three one-goal games.
“He was terrific all night,” Laviolette said. “At that point, you’re under fire a little bit, they start to grab the energy in the building. … That save was big.”
Mikael Granlund, who was acquired in a trade with Minnesota on Feb. 25, scored the go-ahead goal with 8:19 remaining in the third period to spoil the Stars’ first home playoff game since May 11, 2016.
“You know, never get too high, never get too low,” Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s 2-1. I think we’ve been the better team two out of three games. If we keep playing like that, usually the hockey gods get back on your side.”
Mats Zuccarello has scored twice in this series after playing only two regular-season games with the Stars following a trade with the New York Rangers on Feb. 23. He broke his arm in his debut with Dallas the following night.
The Stars mustered 11 shots but failed to score on four opportunities with the man advantage in Game 3. They are just 1-for-13 on the power play in the series.
“Not good enough,” Dallas defenseman John Klingberg said. “Obviously, we know we’re not going to score every time; we have to build momentum, hopefully. Create some good energy for the team. Right now, our unit is struggling a little bit. The second unit is bringing a lot to the table. We have to be better there.”
Tyler Seguin, who collected three goals and an assist in the season series versus Nashville, scored 8:15 into the third period in Game 3 and registered 11 shots on goal.
–Field Level Media