The Nashville Predators probably didn’t much respect the Dallas Stars’ power play going into Game 4 of their NHL playoff series.
But you just can’t continually disrespect a power play and get by with it.
The Predators found that out the hard way on Wednesday. The Stars jumped on them early and often with the man advantage in a 5-1 win before another raucous American Airlines Center crowd.
With the best-of-seven series tied 2-2, the affair headed back to Nashville for a Saturday game. And the Stars are assured to get another warm and rowdy welcome back home for the Game 6 showdown on Monday.
If they haven’t already sold out tickets to that one, they soon will.
Nashville certainly had reason to doubt the Stars in man advantage situations going in. After all they were 1-for-13 and 0 for the last 11. The Stars even had a minute and a half of 5-on-3 that they whiffed on during that run.
But that was before this. Less than four minutes in, Dallas had the power play and Roope Hintz struck from the point to make it 1-0. Then a Predator was boxed less than a minute later, and Alexander Radulov gained control on a faceoff and hit the mark – 2-0.
Andrew Cogliano and Mats Zuccarello would add more menace. By the time 6:15 was showing in the first period, the Stars had three power play goals, a 4-0 lead, and Nashville’s vaunted goalkeeper Pekka Rinne was on the bench.
For all of the Stars energy and improved play as this series has progressed, let’s call Game 4 a fluke. Rinne and the Preds just don’t let teams make runs like that, particularly because of stupid penalties. Not that that will keep P.K. Subban from being the brute he has been.
That’s no reason to let the guns cool down. Coach Jim Montgomery has this Dallas offense clicking better than it has all year, the kind of push you need for the postseason. In fact, Dallas has gotten just what they want. That is solid play from the Tyler Seguin line, with support from Zuccarello and others.
At the Stars defensive end, Ben Bishop got a good amount of work Wednesday, stopping 34 of 35 shots. He has had help up front from a defense led by John Klingberg, who kept the Predators in check at the blue line for much of Game 4. With Miro Heiskanen, the team’s best playoff performer so far, chipping in more than he did Wednesday, this Stars outfit is a force.
Essentially the Stars jailbreak made it a best-of-three series with a lot of drama left to unfold.
Bottom line: That Game 6 at American Airlines Arena Monday back in Dallas, will either be for survival or for clinching. That’s why tickets will go fast.