Thursday, January 5, 2012
Mike Ribeiro shines as Stars down Predators
By Mark Stepneski
Dallas Stars center Mike Ribeiro put on a solid showing in Nashville Thursday night, mixing skill and grit in leading the Dallas Stars to a 4-1 victory over the Predators.
Ribeiro scored two first period goals, left the game late in the second after getting hit in the face with a puck but returned in the third period to help the Stars close out the victory that helps them keep pace in the very tight Western Conference.
“Some of that elusiveness you saw tonight was on display. I thought his compete level was real high. It was a great game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He came back after losing some teeth and getting stitches and he’s diving to block shots. I really liked his game. Some fantastic moves.”
Ribeiro opened the scoring for the Stars 4:18 into the game, slipping by Nashville defenders Roman Josi and Kevin Klein and then beating Predators goalie Pekka Rinne with a backhand shot.
After Nashville had tied the game on a goal by Gabriel Bourque, Ribeiro struck again with 38.7 seconds left in the first to give the Stars a lead that would hold up for the rest of the game. After Rinne couldn’t handle a Nicklas Grossman shot from the left point, the puck dropped behind the Nashville goalie and Ribeiro poked it into the net to put the Stars up 2-1.
Ribeiro left the game late in the second period when he was hit in the face by a Trevor Daley shot with the Stars on the power play.
"He's not as good looking as he was before,” said Gulutzan. “He's lost some teeth and he's got some stitches in his mouth. We’re just thankful it wasn’t a broken jaw or something like that.”
Ribeiro left the ice, but then returned midway through the third period wearing a full cage.
“It was pretty gritty. I don’t know if people noticed, but he went down to block Shea Weber’s shot late in the third period. We’re up 4-1 and there’s two minutes to go,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “He showed a lot of courage. He came back and played a really good game. He’s a big piece of our team. “
The Stars made it a 3-1 game in the second period when Predators defenseman Ryan Suter reversed the puck behind his own net, but it went right to Stars forward Jamie Benn who quickly put it past a surprised Rinne at the 8:46 mark.
The Stars came close to extending the lead three times within the next two on plays by Steve Ott. He hit the post on a breakaway, was pulled down on another breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot, and then hit the post on the penalty shot.
The Stars made it 4-1 in the third, taking advantage of another Nashville turnover. After Predators defenseman Shea Weber lost the puck, Jamie Benn set up Tom Wandell, whose shot from the left circle was tipped into the net by Adam Burish.
“If you look at our game tonight it was a pretty solid win,” said Robidas. “It’s a tough team to play. There are not too many teams that come in that building and win. It’s a tough team to play against and you ask anybody, it could be one of the toughest teams to play against. We knew what we had to bring.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Predators and spoiled the return of Weber, who had missed the last four games with a concussion that resulted from a hit by Stars defenseman Mark Fistric in the Stars’ 6-3 victory over the Predators on December 23.
“They tracked well and we just didn’t have enough push,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “We weren’t sharp. It was a self-inflicted four goals. That’s how I look at it.”
*Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas returned to the lineup after missing six games with a foot injury.
*Nashville fans booed Stars defenseman Mark Fistric, whose hit knocked Predators defenseman Shea Weber out of the lineup for four games.
*Fistric and Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo fought 1:46 minutes into the game.
*The Stars were 3-3 on the penalty kill and are 8-8 on the PK over the last four games.
*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and are now 2-22 over the last seven games.
*Jamie Benn had one goal and one assist, giving him three straight multi-point games.
*Toby Petersen and Jake Dowell were healthy scratches for the Stars, who dressed seven defensemen in the game.