Stars lose control
Early lead vanishes as Dallas can’t match Predators’ intensity
NASHVILLE — The chaos is very real for the Stars. Coach Ken Hitchcock has preached since training camp that the NHL is faster and more frenetic, and he said his team has to learn to remain calm while the action is so chaotic. The Stars didn’t do that T hursday and took a 4-1 loss to Nashville, falling to 1-3-0. “I thought the first period we played was as good a period as we played all year, and then they had a seven-minute stretch where they went to another level, and we didn’t have an answer,” Hitchcock said.
Dallas scored first on a Jamie Benn power-play goal and even killed off a five-minute major penalty to Martin Hanzal for interference to exit the first period with a 1-0 lead. However, Nashville took over in the second period and grabbed a 2-1 lead on the strength of two strong plays by 19-year-old rookie defenseman Samuel Girard.
Girard whipped a puck from distance through traffic to tie the score and then put a huge shot on goal on the power play. Stars goalie Ben Bishop made the first save, but Filip Forsberg scored on the rebound.
It was a hectic punch in the
gut for the Stars and a huge boost for a Nashville team that had started the season 1-2-0 and needed a response.
“It was not good enough. We’re not sticking to it for 60 minutes,” Benn said. “We’re not playing hard enough. Good start, good first period, and they pretty much took over after that.”
Benn said he has to do a better job leading. “It starts with myself. It’s not good enough.”
He added that the team has to be able to read the momentum, whether that’s playing through the chaos or just standing up to another team’s charge.
“I think it’s just the mo- mentum of the hockey game,” Benn said. “When the other team gets a goal or get momentum, we have to respond as a group. You can respond by either digging in and playing harder or by backing right off, and tonight there was an example of that. They started to bring the pressure, and we just let them take it to us.”
The Stars continue to get shots on goal, as each team finished with 31, but they can’t score goals.
“I’m concerned that we’re missing a number of glorious opportunities and we’re letting the other goalie outwork us,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve got three games now where we’ve made the goalie the first star, and we need to figure that out quick.”
They also need to figure out whether Hanzal will be suspended for his hit on Nashville defenseman Yannick Weber. Hanzal caught Weber in the face with a shoulder as Weber was reaching for a puck, and he received a five-minute major.
The league can study the play for supplementary discipline.
“I thought it was a good hit,” Hitchcock said.
Hanzal added: “I didn’t see it, so I don’t know. I thought he had the puck, so I just finished it. I didn’t raise my elbow.”
What Hanzal does know is the team can’t continue like this.
“We’ve lost three games out of four and we need to start winning games, and that’s all that matters,” he said.
Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (center) battles Stars wingers Brett Ritchie (left) and Remi Elie in the second period.