|Predators hope to bounce back at home vs. Stars|
Coming off a lopsided defeat, the Nashville Predators are looking to regain the advantage when they host the Dallas Stars in a pivotal Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series on Saturday afternoon.
The Stars' 5-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday tied the series at two games apiece, reviving Dallas' chances of an upset of the Central Division champions.
"It's huge. There's no other way to say it," Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said of the Game 4 result, adding that "there's such a small margin for error" when a team faces a 3-1 deficit in a series.
"Now we get to play aggressively and our toes and hopefully push the series," Montgomery said.
After each of the first three games were decided by a single goal, the Stars blew things open early on Wednesday with four goals in the opening 13:45 of the first period. Three of those goals came on the power play, after Dallas has scored just once with the man advantage on 13 previous power-play chances in the series.
It was a rare breakdown for a Predators team that didn't allow three power play goals in any game during the regular season, and finished sixth overall in penalty-killing percentage.
The Stars' quick start resulted in Pekka Rinne being pulled from the game after the fourth goal. Given the power-play disadvantage and a few tough bounces, Predators coach Peter Laviolette noted that the goalie's own performance wasn't the reason for the quick hook.
"I don't think any of the first three 1/8goals 3/8 were Pek's fault," Laviolette said. "I think there's things we could've done better on the penalty kill, certainly done better on the backcheck on the even-strength goal. He's played fantastic to this point....It's hard to fault Peks on those goals in those situations, and the circumstances and the situations that we put him in."
Stars goaltender Ben Bishop rebounded from a shaky outing in Game 3 to stop 34 of 35 shots on Wednesday.
Dallas' success on the power play in Game 4 underlined the Predators' glaring weakness in that department. Nashville had the worst power-play percentage in the league during the season, and has yet to score (0-for-10) with the extra attacker during the series.
Whether on the power play or at even strength, any sort of offensive outburst would be welcome for a Predators team that has just eight goals through four games. Ryan Johansen, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson led Nashville in points during the regular season but have combined for just four points (three goals, one assist) in the series. Arvidsson is still looking for his first point of the 2019 postseason.
The Stars, meanwhile, received two goals from an unlikely source in Game 4 when forward Roope Hintz recorded the second multi-goal game of his young NHL career. The rookie had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 58 games for Dallas this season.
Mattias Janmark is day-to-day for the Stars after missing the last two games due to a lower-body injury.
Game 6 is scheduled for Monday in Dallas. If necessary, Game 7 will be played on Wednesday in Nashville.
--Field Level Media