Mikael Granlund lifts Predators past Stars, 2-1 in shootout
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mikael Granlund and goalie Juuse Saros made sure Nashville’s night to remember ended as well as the evening started.
Granlund scored the lone goal of a four-round shootout, helping the Predators cap Thursday night by beating the Dallas Stars 2-1.
The Predators began the evening by honoring longtime goaltender Pekka Rinne before the game by raising his No. 35 jersey to the rafters. A fat catfish wrapped in a Rinne shirt hit the ice before the puck dropped, and a record crowd of 17,869 came out for the celebration.
“It’s been a special day obviously for Pekks, and we all love him so much,” Granlund said. “It was a special day for all of us and especially for Pekks and his family. But we were able to get those two points, and that’s all that matters. I’m just happy for tonight and I’m really happy for Pekks. It was a really nice day.”
Granlund improved to 2 of 2 in shootouts this season, sending a backhander past Jake Oettinger. Goalie Juuse Saros then stopped Jacob Peterson to seal the victory after making 27 saves.
Philip Tomasino scored in regulation for Nashville in its second straight win. The Predators came in holding the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference and padded their lead over the Stars, who have a game in hand, to five points.
“Obviously, Juice played a heck of a game and kept us in there, especially in the shootout,” Tomasino said. “It was a great team win, especially against that team.”
Jason Robertson scored for Dallas, which is trying to climb into playoff contention. The Stars have lost two of three after arriving in Nashville about three hours before the scheduled puck drop after their plane couldn’t be de-iced Wednesday night because of winter weather in Dallas.
“The last 24 hours have been a crazy little time for us,” Stars defenseman Ryan Suter said. “But we came out, we competed. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Shootouts could go either way, and we weren’t able to capitalize in the shootout and it cost us a point.”
The Stars had their chances. Robertson had a shot hit the crossbar about 30 seconds into the Stars’ lone power play of the third. The Stars had another man advantage in overtime after Granlund tripped John Klingberg, but Dallas is 0-of-14 on the power play over four straight games.
Saros, who lived with Rinne when he first arrived in Nashville, stopped Jamie Benn’s shot off a 2-on-1 in the final seconds to send this to the shootout.
The game between the Central Division rivals got chippy quickly with Radek Faksa fighting Nashville rookie Tanner Jeannot 37 seconds after the puck dropped. Tomasino gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 11:56 of the first, bringing the puck up the left side before cutting across and beating Oettinger with a wrister.
Robertson tied it 1:21 into the second, scoring his team-high 10th goal on the road this season. Robertson has five goals and five assists in his last eight games away from Dallas.
Suter was a little late for warm-ups because he watched the pregame ceremony for his former teammate Rinne. Oettinger said he had watched Rinne since he was young and was lucky to get a stick from him last year. The Stars goalie says hopefully he and Saros made Rinne proud.
“Saros was doing a little more than me tonight,” Oettinger said. “I think maybe Pekka liked it a little more. It wasn’t 7-6, it was 1-1. It was a tight game and two really good teams.”
Nashville has yet to score a power-play goal against Dallas this season. The Predators wound up taking only four shots in 10 minutes on the power play, including 8 in the second period.
Predators general manager David Poile became the NHL’s first GM to reach 3,200 games with the regular season and playoffs combined. Poile is the only GM Nashville has ever had, and he was with Washington between Aug. 30, 1982, to May 12, 1997. Glen Sather is second with 3,025.
Stars: Host Buffalo on Sunday.
Predators: Host Tampa Bay on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium in Nashville’s first Stadium Series game.
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