This was not expected.
The Dallas Stars, back on the home ice and in the NHL playoffs at American Airlines Center, trail 2-1 in their best-of-seven series with the Nashville Predators after a 3-2 loss Monday night.
The way in which they lost baffled nearly everyone in the building. Two of three Nashville goals slipped past goalie Ben Bishop in shockingly soft fashion, including the Predators’ go-ahead score by Mikael Granlund with 8:19 left in the game.
Stars coach Jim Montgomery defended his goalie.
“I don’t know if we’re playing if it’s not for our goalies, especially Ben,” Montgomery said. “Our players have to pick him up for how many times he’s picked us up. Would Bishop like to have some of those back? Yeah, but they constantly had traffic. You have to give Nashville credit.”
It came moments after Tyler Seguin’s game-tying score had the AAC crowd erupting in hysterics.
Game 4 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the AAC. The pressure will be squarely on the Stars, who will be desperate to prevent going down 3-1 with the series going back to Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday.
The Predators took a 1-0 lead with a soft goal from Rocco Grimaldi early in the second period. They led 2-0 when Filip Forsberg beat Roman Polak in front of the net with 5:25 left in the second.
“It was just a bad goal,” Bishop said of the first goal of the night. “It’s one you have to have and I just got caught a little in between. I was going to go punch it out and then I was going to coral it … you have to put it behind you. It’s a long season, some nights you get unfortunate bounces.”
The Stars cut it to 2-1 with Mats Zuccarello’s goal late in the period but couldn’t penetrate the Predators’ net despite outshooting Nashville 16-6 in the second.
Dallas outshot Nashville in the game 42-28. Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne had 40 saves. Bishop had 25 shots.
“He was really good,” Montgomery said. “That save on Jamie Benn [in the third period] would have put us up 3-2 and the roof probably goes off the AAC.”
The Stars were the aggressor for much of the match but Nashville came out pushing the puck. and outshot Dallas 13-2 early. Dallas turned the tables, however, and had a 40-15 shot advantage the rest of the game. But Rinne was up to the task.
“The last 52 minutes I thought we played really good hockey,” Montgomery said. “That was a lot of fun to be part of. Our crowd was awesome. I thought our building is the loudest building I’ve been in all year.”