- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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Defenseman Alex Goligoski made a big impact in his third game for the Dallas Stars, helping fuel a third-period rally that gave the Stars a key 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center.
Goligoski, acquired from Pittsburgh on Monday, scored the game-tying goal six minutes into the period and then set up Loui Eriksson’s game-winning power play goal with 3:42 remaining.
“You could see where Goligoski’s speed and ability to join the rush just adds creativity to your offensive game, when you can create an out-numbering chance, and he knows what to do with the puck,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “He made a good pass to initially start it, followed the play, and then made a quality pass to Loui Eriksson to put it home.”
The win was the second straight for the Stars, who climbed back into the top eight and a playoff position in the Western Conference.
“It’s a huge win,” said Goligoski, who has one goal and two assists in the last two games. “Trailing going into the third period, a big road trip coming up, this was a big game. Obviously, where they were in the standings and where we were, it was a big win, definitely.”
Goligoski got the Stars’ third period rally started when his shot from the right point deflected off Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum’s shin and past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.
“It’s nice to get one like that,” said Goligoski.
The Stars got a late power play chance when Shea Weber was given a boarding minor after he slammed Tomas Vincour into the end boards. The Predators had a two-on-one shorthanded chance, but Joel Ward fanned on a shot and Goligoski gathered up the puck, headed the other way and eventually set up Eriksson, who redirected the puck into the net.
“I had the puck in my feet at the blue line and ended up giving up a two-on-one,” said Goligoski. “But I got back, [Brenden] Morrow made a great play and the D kind of pinched up on me so Loui was wide open on the back door.”
The Stars improved to 7-18-2 in games they’ve trailed going into third periods. The seven wins are tied for the most in the league.
“Third periods have generally been our best. We just say let’s stick with it,” said Morrow. “If it takes 20 minutes or five minutes, we just need to believe that if we kept outworking them and outchancing them some of them would go in and that was the case. We got a lucky bounce on one and nice play by [Goligoski] on the other one.”
Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots, including all seven he faced in the third period.
“I felt like I let the team down a little bit in the second, I wasn’t happy with my play, so it was nice to see the guys come back,” said Lehtonen. “There wasn’t really any shots until the last three minutes of the third period and we scored two goals, so the finish was really good.”
“I give our guys credit for digging in and finding a way. I thought we started the game the way we wanted to,” said Crawford. “We knew it was going to be a hard-fought, hard-skating battle. They play a style of game where they don’t beat themselves… It was a hard-fought two points.”
*Brian Sutherby was the scratch at forward.