DALLAS — The comeback capped a spectacle that proved once and for all hockey is alive and thriving in Texas.
The Dallas Stars scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of a sold-out crowd of 85,630 at Cotton Bowl Stadium on Wednesday.
The Winter Classic, the first outdoor game for Dallas and Nashville, was the second-most attended NHL game in history behind the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium (105,491) between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
“If I was out there watching that game or I was watching this on television I would say, ‘That was awesome, man,'” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “The whole thing was awesome.”
Mattias Janmark, Alexander Radulov and Andrej Sekera scored in the first 6:35 of the third period after Blake Comeau scored with 1:08 remaining in the second period.
Ben Bishop made 31 saves for the Stars (23-14-4), who have won three games in a row, all with third-period comebacks. Dallas leads the League with seven wins when trailing after two periods.
“I think it’s the way that the guys buy into the style of play that we have to play,” Comeau said. “Even if we’re down two or three goals I don’t feel like anyone goes off on their own page. We want to play a hard, good defensive game and we feel like we’re going to get our chances. It’s a good job by us lately of just sticking with it.”
Roman Josi had two assists, extending his point streak to eight games (seven goals, eight assists), and Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for the Predators (18-15-6), who lost their third straight game.
“Playing in the Winter Classic, it’s a pretty special game,” Josi said. “It definitely hurts.”
The Predators blew a two-goal lead after losing defenseman Ryan Ellis to an upper-body injury 2:44 into the first period on an elbow to the head by Stars forward Corey Perry.
Perry received a five-minute major for elbowing and the first game misconduct in Winter Classic history. Ellis did not return and there was no update on his status after the game.
Comeau made it a 5-on-3 for Nashville with a delay of game penalty at 4:22. Matt Duchene scored 1:24 later at 5:46 to make it 1-0. Dante Fabbro’s power-play goal at 7:36 gave Nashville a 2-0 lead.
Nashville kept its two-goal lead when Stars forward Denis Gurianov missed a penalty shot at 8:38 after he was tripped by Predators defenseman Matt Irwin.
“After Ryan left the game, I thought we did what we needed to do regarding the power play, capitalizing and taking advantage of that,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “After that, we carried on playing a decent first period. The second period, even though we left it 2-1, they started to create more than we were creating in the offensive zone.”
Comeau’s goal at 18:52 cut the Predators lead to 2-1. Dallas began the third period on the power play because of Colin Blackwell’s delay of game penalty at 19:11 of the second.
“That goal was huge for us,” Stars forward Jamie Benn said. “We went into the dressing room with some confidence. The boys were excited to come out in the third and start the period with a power play. We just tried to keep the momentum on our side.”
Janmark scored 58 seconds into the third to make it 2-2. Dallas went back on the power play at 3:42 and Radulov scored on a one-timer at 5:06 to give Dallas a 3-2 lead.
“That was the loudest [I’ve heard a crowd] when I’ve been on the ice before,” Stars forward Tyler Seguinsaid. “That was cool.”
Sekera scored on a rebound to make it 4-2 at 6:35.
“The building was great, the fans and the environment,” Laviolette said. “The National Hockey League did an unbelievable job putting on this event and we’re very fortunate to be a part of it. Hockey down in Texas and a couple of southern teams, to fill the building the way we did, it was an incredible day. You want the score to go in a different direction if you’re part of the game, but the game overall, the ice, the atmosphere was excellent.”