DALLAS – Rookie Dan Ellis spent years trying to win a goaltending job with the Stars. He’s made the most of a fresh start with the Predators.
Ellis stopped 22 shots for his third career shutout, J.P. Dumont scored a second-period goal and Nashville ended a seven-game losing streak in Dallas with a 1-0 victory over the Stars on Monday night.
Ellis, a former minor-league goaltender in the Stars organization who started one game for Dallas during the 2003-04 season, signed with the Predators as a free agent last summer.
His path to the NHL was blocked by Marty Turco and Dallas backup Mike Smith, and Ellis is thriving with his new team.
“It always has some extra meaning when you play an organization that you were with for your whole pro career,” said Ellis. “I loved being a Dallas Star and have the utmost respect for their organization but tonight was an opportunity to play for the Predators. They’re the ones that gave me a shot in the NHL.”
Ellis improved his record to 8-4 this season, helping stop his former team’s four-game winning streak.
Turco had 29 saves for the Stars, who had been 8-1 in their previous nine games and were 14-2 all-time against the Predators in Dallas.
Turco and Ellis practised together during past training camps, and Turco said he could see Ellis had the NHL in his future.
“He’s a good fundamental goalie,” Turco said. “He gives you a solid performance each night. It was tough for him to play in the minors. He’s made the most of his chances and it’s exciting for me to see him play at this level.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz used a little motivational psychology before the game, reminding Ellis that the Stars did not try to keep him last summer.
“I said to him that those guys didn’t want him,” Trotz said. “He played a real good game. I thought we played a really good game in front of him. He made a couple of big saves when we needed them and got the job done. I’m really happy for Ellie. He’s been a real good story for us this year.”
Dumont provided the Predators with all the scoring they’d need at 16:42 of the second period, striking from in front of the net off a setup by Alexander Radulov.
Nashville dominated the second period with a 15-5 shots advantage, but Turco kept the Predators off the scoreboard until Dumont’s 12th goal of the season, also assisted by Jason Arnott, who used to play in Dallas.
“I pretty much didn’t get anything on it,” Dumont said of his goal. “Radulov made a good play and I just found an opening there. It hit my stick and I shot it. It was a big goal and after that, we never looked back.”
The Stars managed one shot in six power-play opportunities, and that proved their undoing.
“With all due respect, this was more about our power play than other teams’ penalty kill,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We weren’t very good tonight. We’ve been on a pretty good run and the bounces have been going our way. Tonight we didn’t earn many bounces.”
The Predators had a first-period scoring chance denied when Turco stopped Scott Nichol on a penalty shot. Dallas was on a power play when Nichol skated in alone and was hooked by Stars defenceman Sergei Zubov, with Nichol being awarded the penalty shot at 6:35.
Nichol carried the puck from the high slot to the right circle and tried to fake Turco out of position, but Turco wasn’t buying and easily turned aside the attempt.
Turco also denied Nichol on a short-handed breakaway midway through the second period.
Notes: The Predators have won both meetings with the Stars this season. …D Mattias Norstrom (lower body injury) was back in the Dallas lineup after missing three games with a knee injury. …LW Jussi Jokinen (leg) was among the Stars’ scratches. …C David Legwand, who began the night as Nashville No. 2 scorer with 28 points, was out with a chest injury sustained in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to San Jose. …The Stars were shut out for the second time this season. …Dallas has killed 21 straight penalties.