Haula's OT winner leads Predators over Stars 1-0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When Nashville and Dallas play, 60 minutes never seems long enough.
Erik Haula scored at 3:32 of overtime to give the Predators a 1-0 victory over the Stars on Saturday night.
Juuse Saros made 28 saves for Nashville, winners of three of four.
“It was a hard-fought battle by both teams,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “There wasn’t a lot of room on the ice, lots of physicality. I thought both goaltenders played really well.”
Anton Khudobin made 33 saves for Dallas, which has lost three in a row.
“It’s like Game 7. ... Good intensity,” Khudobin said. “Guys playing really well ... It’s like a Game 7.”
In overtime, Mattias Ekholm carried the puck into the Dallas zone on the left side. He skated around the net and threw the puck in front, where Haula was there to poke it by Khudobin.
“I saw (Ekholm) had good speed and he was going in there, and I had a feeling he was going to try the wraparound,” Haula said. “I was just trying to time myself and luckily it hit right on my tape and back of the net so it was a good feeling.”
The shutout was the third of the season for Saros and the 14th of his career. All three of his shutouts this season have come since March 23.
“It’s big points and a big win,” Saros said. “We just stayed with it and got it done. We’ve still got some business left to do here.”
With the win, Nashville takes a three point lead in the race for the fourth and final Central Division playoff berth. Nashville has been in fourth place since March 28.
“We played our hearts out. We did. We did,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “We didn’t give up much but obviously we didn’t score and we were trying to score. In terms of the effort and the commitment to the team, 100% satisfied. Our guys played very hard and they played their hearts out tonight.”
Saturday was the last head-to-head meeting of the season between the teams. Dallas has five games remaining, the Predators four. Five of the eight meetings of the season between the teams went to overtime, with three of those extending to a shootout. Nashville won all five of the games that required extra time.
With just under 12 minutes remaining in the third, Khudobin denied Matt Duchene and Haula on back-to-back opportunities to keep the Predators off of the scoreboard.
Not to be outdone, with six minutes to go, Saros stopped Esa Lindell’s attempt from the left side and then turned aside Jamie Benn’s shot off of the rebound.
Stars forward Denis Gurianov missed Saturday’s game due to an upper-body injury. Gurianov was one of just four Stars who played in the team’s first 50 games of the season prior to Saturday.
He had two goals and three assists in seven games played against Nashville this season.
Bowness did not have an update on Gurianov after the game.
FORSBERG BACK, ARVIDSSON OUT
Predators forward Filip Forsberg returned to the Nashville lineup Saturday night after missing the last 17 games due to an upper-body injury. Forsberg has not played since Nashville’s March 25 game against Detroit.
“Fil came in, I thought he skated well, played both sides of the puck hard, so I think it was a good first game for him,” Hynes said.
Viktor Arvidsson missed Saturday’s game due to an upper-body injury. He played just 7:04 in Nashville’s last game, a Tuesday night home loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Predators travel to Columbus for a pair of games against the Blue Jackets Monday and Wednesday.
Dallas visits the Florida Panthers on Monday.