The Nashville Predators beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 in their exhibition game Thursday afternoon. This was the one and only tune-up game for the Predators before they begin their qualifying series against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. It was also the first time the Predators have played a real hockey game since the middle of March. Overall, Nashville looked strong in their return, which is a great sign heading into the playoffs.
Viktor Arvidsson opened the scoring with a powerplay goal less than five minutes into the game. Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene picked up the helpers, meaning three of the Predators’ most important offensive players got on the scoresheet early on.
Arvidsson scored again in the second period, giving the Preds a 2-0 lead. His second goal was also assisted by Filip Forsberg, and Roman Josi picked up the secondary assist.
That would be it for scoring in the game. Nashville’s goalies Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne combined to shut out the Stars, with each goalie playing half the game. Saros got the start and made 12 saves before being relieved by Rinne. Rinne played the second half of the game and made 13 saves.
Overall, the Predators played very well for not having played a hockey game in almost five months. They were tight defensively and were able to get a couple goals in on a team that does not give up many goals against. A couple of very important things really stood out, though.
First, most of the Predators’ top scorers contributed offensively. Viktor Arvidsson scored both goals. Filip Forsberg had two assists. Roman Josi and Matt Duchene each picked up an assist. Even in a game with only two goals, Nashville’s top scorers were able to get on the scoresheet. It is vitally important that these players put up points in the playoffs. They are off to a good start.
Second, both Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne played very well. Nashville’s two goalies stopped every shot they saw on Thursday, with each of them playing about half the game. There’s been a lot of speculation about who is going to start for the Predators in the playoffs, and that question definitely was not answered for sure. Both goalies showed that they are capable of being the starter. Goaltending is always a huge piece of the puzzle in the postseason, and it looks like the Preds are in good shape between the pipes.
The Predators have to be happy with the way they played against Dallas. That’s in the past now though, and the important thing is to play that well moving forward. The qualifying series against Arizona is not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, the Predators certainly have the ability to win, especially if their scorers keep scoring and goalies play like they did Thursday.
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