Maybe the Stars simply play to the level of their competition.
If so, that would explain why they struggled Monday in an overtime loss to Ottawa at home and looked good Tuesday while playing the hottest team in the league.
Or maybe they were playing guilty Tuesday, knowing they squandered a great opportunity to pick up two points on Monday.
"I thought, myself included, that we played like we were saving energy for (Nashville)," Stars center Tyler Seguin said before the game. "So we better be fine then."
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The Stars were indeed fine. In fact, they were pretty good. Still, they lost a 2-0 game to the Predators, who pushed their winning streak to nine games.
Nashville moves to 43-14-9 (95 points) and is looking like a strong bet to win the Central Division.
Despite missing some of their best players in Ben Bishop (knee), Martin Hanzal (back), Radek Faksa (foot) and Esa Lindell (illness), Dallas pushed the Predators to the edge. The Stars fall to 37-24-6 (80 points) and fail to make up ground in their bid to secure a playoff spot.
Still, it was an encouraging night for Dallas. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Stars received a balanced effort. Coach Ken Hitchcock balanced out his lines. He moved Mattias Janmark to a left wing and Devin Shore to center because Janmark was forced to wear a clunky shield after suffering a facial injury Monday. He also inserted rookie Jason Dickinson in place of Faksa and had Jason Spezza working with youngsters Remi Elie and Gemel Smith.
It worked against a Nashville team that was welcoming back Mike Fisher, who returned from retirement to join the team Tuesday.
"It's a four-line game," Hitchcock said. "They're going to play four, they trust their four, they've got great depth. They're able to work their lineup around and not miss a beat. We have to find a way to get four lines to play. We'll see if we can be effective this way."
The Stars looked good exchanging chances, and they received a strong effort from Kari Lehtonen in net. The big Finn dueled with his old friend Pekka Rinne, and gave Dallas every chance to win. He was beat on a fluky play in the third period, and that was the only goal.
Austin Watson was trying to play a puck and it skittered out to Ryan Hartman. The recent acquisition from Chicago whipped in a backhand shot for his 10th goal of the season, and that was the game.
Dallas had some strong scoring chances, but actually were fortunate they weren't down earlier in the game. Nashville hit a couple of posts, forced Lehtonen into some huge saves, and also almost scored in the final minute of the second period. Scott Hartnell chipped a puck that appeared to be going into the net, but Janmark swiped it off the goal line and kept the game scoreless.
It was a wonderful effort. But, at the end of the night, it was just a little short.
John Klingberg was trying to get his team another third period comeback, he tripped and fell and handed the puck to Nick Bonino for an empty-netter to seal the fate.