NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators just missed the tornado that ripped through Music City not far from their arena, flying out of town for a road game.
They offered Nashville a bit of hockey relief Thursday night.
Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene each ended long scoring droughts with a power-play goal apiece to help Nashville both shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 and snap a three-game losing streak.
“It was crazy what happened,” Forsberg said of the storms that killed at least 24 across Tennessee and leaving a swath of destruction through Nashville. “We obviously just got out of here before it hit. And yeah, it makes hockey obviously feel very small in the big picture when you look at it. And it’s awesome to see how much the city has embraced it (relief efforts), and we’re definitely a big part of doing that as well.”
The Predators opened with a moment of silence before the national anthem for the storm victims. Coach John Hynes and his assistants also wore “Nashville Strong” T-shirts instead of shirts and ties under their blazers as the Predators sold the T-shirt and other items to make money for relief efforts.
“Hopefully this was something that could take people away for a couple hours and give the city something to be proud of,” Hynes said.
Forsberg also ended his own 16-game skid with his first goal since Jan. 30, and Duchene scored his first since Feb. 15 to move the Predators back to the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot at least for the moment. The poise and puck movement Nashville showed bouncing back from a 2-1 loss in Minnesota on Tuesday night might provide the boost the Predators have been looking for all season.
“We looked dangerous tonight, and we haven’t looked that very much this season,” Duchene said. “We’ve just got to keep doing those things. Our PK was great and our power play got the job done tonight.”
Juuse Saros made 32 saves for his third shutout this season and the 10th of his career.
Dallas, which beat Nashville in six games in the first round of the playoffs last spring, currently is third in the Central Division. The Stars have lost four straight, though they got a point out of the previous two.
“Disappointing, for sure,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “They played like a very desperate hockey club, which they are to make the playoffs. Give them full marks because they came at us hard. Just disappointed that we didn’t respond better.”
This was the first game in the NHL this season with both starting goaltenders under 6 feet with Saros in net for Nashville and Anton Khudobin for Dallas — with both listed at 5-11.
The Stars started forward Corey Perry, whose hit to the head of Ryan Ellis in the Winter Classic put the Predators’ defenseman out for 20 games, and they also took six of the first seven shots. The difference was Forsberg and Duchene helping Nashville go 2-of-4 with the man advantage while killing all four penalties.
Nashville led 1-0 after Forsberg, who shot wide off a cross-ice pass from captain Roman Josi with about 2 minutes left, scored from the right circle with 53 seconds left off another pass from Josi. Dallas defenseman John Klingberg, who came in with eight penalties all season, had two in the first. He was in the box for holding Forsberg, setting up the man advantage the Predators forward scored on.
Duchene drew a penalty when tripped by Stephen Johns, then he converted by tipping Calle Jarnkrok’s shot from the left circle past Khudobin at 13:44 of the second.
Saros, who made a big stop on Jamie Benn in the first period, made a flurry of saves late in the second. First, he stopped a backhander from Alexander Radulov, then Mattias Janmark’s wrister before Joe Pavelski’s wraparound try to preserve the 2-0 lead. He made nine saves in the third to preserve the shutout and improve to 9-4-0 in his last 13 starts.
NOTES: Forsberg now has 164 career goals, all with Nashville. That put him third on the franchise’s all-time list, passing Martin Erat (163 goals), who Nashville traded to Washington for Forsberg. … Defenseman Korbinian Holzer made his Nashville debut after being acquired in a deadline trade. … The Predators improved to 25-6-4 when scoring first and 20-2-3 when leading after two periods.
These teams wrap up the season series Saturday night when Dallas hosts the Predators.
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