Jeff K's Dallas Stars Playoff Blog - Round 1 Game 3

The AAC was packed, the place was rocking, the Dallas Stars were hosting their first Playoff game in nearly three years. They outshot the Nashville Predators 42-28, held a 60-28 edge in scoring chances, heck the Stars even had a true rally GOAT in attendance, newly retired NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki, yet it wasn't enough. The Nashville Predators, and more specifically goaltender Pekka Rinne, stole Game 3 on Monday night and in the process took a 2-1 Series lead.

They say goaltending and special teams decides playoff games. On Monday night the Stars were deficient in both. After a scoreless first period, Ben Bishop gave up an early second period goal to (who else) Rocco Grimaldi from a bad angle. Then, the Stars had a real chance to swing the momentum and do some serious damage with 1:29 of 5 on 3 power play time, yet they were unable to score. Then, Filip Forsberg got in alone on Bishop and deposited the puck for a 2-0 Predators lead. Just like that the life had been zapped out the building, and the Stars desperately needed a hero. With under 3 minutes to play in the second period they got one.

Mats Zuccarello has been everything the Stars hoped he would be. The diminutive Norwegian has provided timely, depth scoring and his goal Monday night reignited the home crowd and gave the Stars something to believe in heading into the third period. That's when the team's top 3 players decided to work their magic. Alexander Radulov battled behind the net for the puck which drifted to Jamie Benn who fed Tyler Seguin in front and BOOM, tie game.

At that point the Stars had all the momentum and the building was again going crazy. It looked for a moment as if Jaimie Benn would give the Stars their first lead of the night when he was open on the doorstep, only to stoned point blank by Pekka Rinne.

Then, moments later another seemingly harmless shot from distance, this time from Preds' forward Mikael Granlund, glanced off Ben Bishop's blocker and into the back of the net. Another uncharacteristic goal allowed by the man who ended the regular season setting a new Stars' franchise record for save percentage at .934. Once again the building deflated, the Stars were behind the 8-ball and time was running out.

The Stars had their chances down the stretch, including another point blank effort from Jaime Benn, but last year's Vezina Trophy winner was up to the task. Even with Ben Bishop pulled and the extra attacker, the Stars they couldn't solve Playoff Pekka Rinne. After the game Ben Bishop reminded us he's been in this situation before and there's no panic. Time to move on.

Now the Stars have their work cut out for them. Game 4 is Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. While we all know it's not the first team to win TWO, the Stars must find a way to win Game 4 and even up at TWO a piece, and send it back to Nashville a best two-outta-three Series.

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