The Dallas Stars’ delayed season opener was worth the wait.
The Stars, who raised their Western Conference championship banner before the game, trounced Nashville 7-0 Friday as Joe Pavelski had two goals and two assists and Anton Khudobin stopped 34 shots for his 100th career NHL victory.
The teams will meet again Sunday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Not everything was roses for the Stars, however, as captain Jamie Benn was injured when his right leg buckled after a second-period collision with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson. Benn didn’t practice Saturday and is questionable for the rematch. Coach Rick Bowness said he is day-to-day.
The Stars were the last NHL team to begin the season after their first four games were postponed because 17 players tested positive for COVID-19 during training camp.
“Going into a game like that, no preseason, a broken training camp, we did a lot of skating with the attempt to have our legs and be ready,” Pavelski said. “We wanted to come into this game with no excuses and we wanted to be able to match their work ethic or even try to outwork it. It turned into a special teams game, but overall you feel good.”
The Stars tied a franchise record with five power-play goals.
After a scoreless first period, the Stars tallied five times in a span of 13:56 in the second — three on the power play, one short-handed and one at even strength.
“We were little out of sorts in that first period, which was to be expected, but we played through it, and Doby made the big saves,” Bowness said. “It was the power play that got us going in the second … that gave everyone a huge boost.”
Alexander Radulov also scored twice for the Stars and Joel Kiviranta had a goal and an assist.
Bowness said it was good to finally play a game.
“We have something to work off of now,” the coach said. “The guys are sick of looking at video of themselves in practice, so now we have something to work from.”
The Predators were playing for the first time since Monday as the second game of their back-to-back series against Carolina was postponed because the Hurricanes were hit with coronavirus concerns.
Now they’ll get another shot at the Stars.
“It’s the challenge of these two-game series that we have (this season),” Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 7-0 or 2-1 at the end. We lost a game, and that’s something that we’ll look at. I’m sure Coach has got a lot of stuff to run by us … and we can’t get too high, can’t get too low.
“Obviously the scoreboard looks bad, but at the end of the day, we got zero points and that’s all that matters,” he continued. “We have to assess that and look at what we did good, look at what we can do better, which is obviously a lot of things, and come back ready to play on Sunday.”
Predators center Mikael Granlund made his season debut Friday, after a weeklong quarantine and only one practice since returning from his native Finland. He had four shots while playing nearly 18 minutes.
“His pace of play was good, his conditioning was good. He looked like he was certainly ready to play, and prepared to play,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “He knows the system and he knows the structure. He jumped in and had a good first game.”
–Field Level Media