NASHVILLE - Less than 24 hours after rallying from a three-goal deficit in a shootout loss to Florida, the Dallas Stars found themselves on the other end of a frantic comeback bid.
Up by a goal after two periods, the Stars were stunned by Nashville's three-goal third period that earned them a 4-2 win over Dallas on Saturday night at Sommet Center. Steve Sullivan, Patric Hornqvist and Kevin Klein all scored in the final 20 minutes for the Predators to send Dallas to its first regulation loss on the road this season (4-1-3).
Steve Ott and Brian Sutherby scored for the Stars, who lost for the first time this season when leading after two periods. Backup Alex Auld got the start in place of the ill Marty Turco, and finished with 29 saves.
After a draining game against the Panthers, the Stars eventually lost their legs in the third, as Nashville peppered Auld with 13 shots while enjoying the territorial edge during a game-changing nine-minute stretch.
Sullivan, Hornqvist and Klein all scored during that time frame, Shea Weber popped one home in the first period, and goalie Pekka Rinne finished with 27 saves to give Nashville its third straight win.
"They made us pay tonight when we didn’t execute," said Stars head coach Marc Crawford. "That was a funny type of third period; you couldn’t say that we played bad and there weren’t any big mistakes. They had a couple good shots and they were going to the net pretty hard. Their goalie made a couple big saves and they earned their goals tonight."
The Stars were once again without Turco, who remained in Dallas because of flu-like symptoms, but did get Ott back after he sat out the past two games because of a league-mandated suspension.
"I tried to get my feet going as much as I can and keep things simpler," Ott said. "Anytime you sit around makes it tough for the rhythm of the game."
Sullivan tied the game at 2 with a slick snap shot from the right circle just three minutes into the third period after accepting a pass from J.P. Dumont.
Auld made three dazzling stops midway through the final stanza, including a great save on Dumont from in tight, before Hornqvist finally solved him with 9:01 left in regulation. After making a sprawling save on Hornqvist's original shot, then two straight blocks on David Legwand's rebound attempts, the puck eventually squirted out of a mass of players into the crease, where Hornqvist calmly elevated it over Auld for a 3-2 Nashville lead.
Klein made it 4-2 less than a minute later when his slap shot from the right point snuck in on the glove side past a screened Auld.
With the game tied 1-1 after the first period, Sutherby notched his fourth goal of the year -- and second in as many games -- at 2:15 of the second period. After receiving a backhand pass from Tom Wandell off the rush, Sutherby ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle that eluded Rinne.
Three minutes later Auld denied Nashville's leading scorer Dumont on a breakaway, then spit back a golden opportunity by Legwand from in tight.
The Stars outshot the Predators by a 15-8 margin in the middle frame after having a 12-6 disadvantage in the first period, but were unable to cash in on a 49-second two-man advantage late in the second.
"It's something we definitely need to be scoring on," Ott said. "They're momentum changers."
Ott opened the scoring just 3:31 into the game with his second goal of the season while Dallas was on the power play. Standing in front of Rinne, Ott first deflected Brad Richards' wrist shot from the left point into Rinne's pads before jamming home the rebound.
Weber knotted things up with 7:16 left in the first period on the power play. The Predators high-scoring defenseman released a one-timer from the middle of the blue line that went in off the left post.
Coming in, the Predators had the worst power play in the league.
The Stars will return to Dallas for a short two-game homestand that starts on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames (7:30, my27). The Flames had won three of their last four games heading into their home game against Detroit on Saturday night.
--These two teams have already played each other three times. They'll close out the season-series at Nashville on March 23.
--Richards extended his points streak to five games (2-6-8). He has recorded at least a point in all but two of Dallas' games this season.
--Matt Climie once again was the backup netminder.
--Sutherby has three goals in his last four games.
--Dallas is now 5-1 when leading after two periods. Nashville, meanwhile, erased a deficit after two periods for the first time this season (1-4-0).
--The Stars finished the first month of the season with a 6-3-5 mark.
--Dallas hasn't won in Nashville since Feb. 2008.
Wrist shot -