Hartnell, Predators look for consistency vs. Stars
Scott Hartnell has played for 17 seasons in the NHL. Tuesday night was his 1,190th game, and it was one of the wildest he's ever been involved in as the Nashville Predators blew a 3-0 lead, then scored twice in the last 77 seconds to dump the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5.
"It was exciting to see the fans get what they paid for," Hartnell said. "It was a great start to the game. Up 3-0, the game should be shut down at that point. Some sloppy play led to them taking over the game. You're not going to come back like that against a lot of teams in this league."
Which means that consistency is what the 35-year old Hartnell and the Predators are looking for Thursday night when they host the Dallas Stars in Bridgestone Arena.
Like Nashville, Dallas is 1-2-0. Also like the Predators, the Stars picked up their first win at home on Tuesday night, knocking off Detroit 4-2. Unlike Nashville, Dallas has played at a level pleasing to new coach Ken Hitchcock.
The veteran bench boss, who tied the late Al Arbour for third place in NHL history Tuesday night with his 782nd career win, liked that his team married result to process.
"I thought this was the best balance we've had," Hitchcock said. "This looked like something you could really build on. We look like we could deal people some body blows, and that's the way we're built. I think the players are starting to understand that."
A trendy pick to win the Central after a terrific offseason in which it landed goalie Ben Bishop and center Alex Radulov, Dallas started with 2-1 and 4-2 losses to Vegas and St. Louis in which it did things well enough to win, but just couldn't find the back of the net often enough.
The hiring of Hitchcock, fired in early February by St. Louis in what was supposed to be his final season with the Blues, appears to have brought a more defensive approach to the Stars. They have for several years been explosive offensively but deficient on the back end.
That description could also fit the Predators' performance in their home opener. They scored the first three goals and the last three goals, storming the Philadelphia zone during late power plays for the tying and winning markers, but also permitted five goals in a span of less than 17 minutes bridging the second and third periods.
"I think from after the 12-minute mark until after the 40-minute mark, we weren't very good," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "There's certainly positives to take from the game tonight, and then there's things we will continue to work on."
The Predators have allowed 13 goals in their first three games, something they will have to cut down on in order to position themselves for a division title and a long playoff run. But Hartnell, in his second stint with the team, and Filip Forsberg each scored two goals against the Flyers.
Nashville is hoping captain Roman Josi and center Colton Sissons (lower-body injuries) can return to the lineup. Both sat out Tuesday night.
Updated October 11, 2017