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Bourque’s first NHL goal not enough for Preds…

Bridgestone Arena was sold out for the seventh straight time. The fans did their part. Too bad the Nashville Predators didn’t do theirs.

In front of 17,113, the Dallas Stars took it to the Preds, beating them 4-1.

Pekka Rinne made 26 saves in the loss while his counterpart on the other end of the ice, Kari Lehtonen, turned aside 24. Rinne is still an amazing 9-1-1 in his last 12.

This was Nashville’s first loss since December 26.

Before the scoring started, another score had to be settled first. Jordin Tootoo dropped the gloves with Dallas blueliner Mark Fistric just 1:46 into the contest. The last time these two teams met, Fistric nailed the Predators captain with an elbow that drew no penalty from the officials and no suspension from the league. Tootoo dropped the gloves with Fistric just 1:46 into the contest. Very few punches were thrown but Tootoo was able to slam Fistric to the ice.

“I give Fistric full marks,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “He didn’t not want to get involved. He said ‘I’ll stand up to that’ and, once guys stand up to it, it ends.”

After Mike Ribeiro got the Stars on the board early on, with 8:31 gone in the first, rookie forward Gabriel Bourque recorded a moment he will never forget: his first career NHL goal. Tootoo won a battle behind the Stars net and tossed the puck out in front. Bourque was on top of the crease all alone and snapped a shot past Lehtonen to tie the game.

“It was a really nice play by my linemates,” Bourque recalled. “It’s a good feeling but, when you lose, you have to focus on the next game.”

To make the moment even sweeter, when PA Announcer Paul McCann announced that it was Bourque’s first NHL goal, Bridgestone Arena gave him a standing ovation.

The joy was short lived though as, just before the first period expired, Ribeiro potted his second of the game. A shot from the point tricked Rinne and, as he tried to glove it, it trickled past him and lay in the crease. Ribeiro was able to one-hand it into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Early in the middle frame, Dallas added another one. Rinne handled a simple dump-in, leaving the puck behind the net for Ryan Suter. Suter, however, dumped it behind him as he continued around the net. That’s where Stars winger Jamie Benn picked it off and banked it off of Rinne’s left skate for the tally.

In the final stanza, former Chicago Blackhawk Adam Burish finished off the scoring with a tip in front.

Nashville will now turn it’s attention to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. It’s the first of four games this month where the Preds will play an Eastern Conference opponent.

The Predators will try and make it eight consecutive sellouts by the time the puck drops at 7:00pm Central.

* Excpect rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis to be sent back to Milwaukee on Friday. He was a healthy scratch on Thursday as Shea Weber returned from injury.
* While the Preds were on the man advantage in the second, Suter hauled down Steve Ott. The Dallas forward was awarded a penalty shot. He rang the puck off the post on the attempt.
* The Stars hit four posts in this game. The score could’ve been much worse.
* Weber led all Preds in shots (4).
* Jack Hillen and Francis Bouillon were the only Nashville players to register a plus rating (plus-1).
* The Predators had the league’s fourth best power play coming into the night. They finished 0-for-3 and looked absolutely terrible in doing so.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 8:03 remaining in regulation):
1) Mike Ribeiro (DAL)
2) Jamie Benn (DAL)
3) Gabriel Bourque (NSH)

1) Mike Ribeiro (DAL)
2) Kari Lehtonen (DAL)
3) Loui Eriksson (DAL)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //