Saros makes career-best 43 saves, Predators beat Stars 5-2
DALLAS (AP) Nashville goalie Juuse Saros reveled in his busy night.
Saros made a career-high 43 saves and his Predators teammates scored four times in the second period to cool off the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Tuesday.
”It’s always nice to see a lot of pucks and face a lot of shots,” Saros said, ”especially when our D is playing good in front of me and most of the shots come (from) outside.”
Nashville has won three in a row and is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games. The Stars had won five straight and seven of eight.
Saros has won both his career starts against Dallas, totaling 73 saves. He has played 28 NHL games over three seasons.
”I thought that we played a good road game early,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”The second half of the game, I don’t think we were real sharp, but the score was 5-0 at that point.”
Stars goalie Ben Bishop allowed three goals on 15 shots before Kari Lehtonen replaced him 4:26 into the second period. Lehtonen finished with 15 saves and gave up two goals.
Kevin Fiala scored on a first-period power play for the Predators. Cody McLeod, Pontus Aberg, Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok added the second-period goals.
Dallas defensemen Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak scored in the third.
Oleksiak had a Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight. His goal went in off a defender’s skate with 42 seconds left.
”It was unfortunate that last one goes in on the redirect,” Laviolette said. ”It’s really a nothing play. (Saros) could’ve walked away with 40 shots on net and a one-goal-against performance.”
Fiala put Nashville on the board at 15:49 of the first. He took a pass from Turris low in the left faceoff circle and sent the puck into the upper right corner of the net.
Stars captain Jamie Benn was in the penalty box.
”A tough night. Starting with myself, probably a bad penalty and they scored,” Benn said.
Fiala has a goal in three straight games after scoring only twice in his first 24 games this season.
A flurry of activity early in the second period increased Nashville’s lead to 3-0.
Two fights within 13 seconds resulted in four major penalties. Five seconds after the Predators’ Austin Watson and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak settled into the penalty box, McLeod caught Bishop out of position for his first goal of the season at 2:48.
”They tried to come hard in the second,” Saros said. ”Challenged with a couple fights and we weren’t scared about that. Yeah, I think it showed the character of our team.”
Aberg took a pass from Jarnkrok at the inside edge of the right circle and beat Bishop, chasing him from the game. It was Aberg’s first goal this season and the second of his career.
Nashville’s second power play led to another goal on Turris’ drive from the top of the left circle past Lehtonen.
The Predators even scored on a Dallas power play. Jarnkrok’s short-handed goal followed a pass at an open right side of the net as Watson skated from behind the net on the opposite side.
Saros stopped all 21 Dallas shots in the second.
”He was excellent and he made big saves,” Laviolette said.
”Early on, especially in the first period, I thought the chances were pretty tight both ways. We knew we needed to do that coming in here with their firepower. Once it got to 3-0, 4-0, I thought we were a bit loose, but our goalie played really well.”
Dallas has scored on only two of its last 37 power plays, including two chances on Tuesday.
NOTES: Stars LW Antoine Roussel missed his third straight game because of illness. … Nashville C Ryan Johansen (upper-body injury) has missed the last two games. … The three-goal margin of victory tied the largest this season for the Predators. Dallas lost 6-1 at Tampa Bay on Nov. 16.
Predators: Return home to host Vegas on Friday.
Stars: Travel to St. Louis for a game on Thursday.
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