Nashville’s 5-2 loss was the first game that Chris Mason started in goal for the Predators since a 6-5 loss in Colorado on Feb. 18.
Mason allowed four goals on just 11 shots by the midway point of the second period and gave up five goals on a total of 18 shots. The Predators’ backup netminder had no problem admitting it was hard to get into the game.
“It was hard because I didn’t get a lot of shots,” the 36-year old explained. “It wasn’t one of those games where they are shooting the puck from the perimeter or I had a lot of clean looks at the puck. So it was a real tough game to get a good feeling and to get into it. I am obviously not happy with it.”
It wasn’t just Friday’s contest that was a struggle for Mason, the season as a whole hasn’t gone that well. In seven games, Mason is 1-5-1 with a goals-against average of 3.79 and a .848 save percentage.
Nashville’s starting goaltender, Pekka Rinne, has been a workhorse for the Predators ever since winning over the starting job from Dan Ellis in 2009. Rinne started 25 consecutive games for the Predators before Mason got back in net to start against Dallas.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz said it was time the team gave Rinne a night off.
“People ask why we didn’t make the change,” Trotz said. “It’s plain and simple. Chris [Mason] has not played for a long time. It’s been  games and he deserved a start. We’ve rode Pekka all the way. We have three games in four nights, and we are trying to give him a breather.”
The long break between starts for Mason did affect his game.
“You have to be realistic; it is tough to have that good confident feeling and feel comfortable. I haven’t played in a while. It was just a game all over the place and hopefully the next one is better,” Mason said after the loss.
The Predators outshot Dallas 28-18, but could only beat the Stars backup netminder, Richard Bachman, twice on the night. The goal scorers for Nashville were Taylor Beck and Bobby Butler, two young players trying to make a case for a roster spot on next year’s team.
Losers of five straight contests, Weber mentioned there are plenty of other things to play for before the season ends in Columbus on Apr. 27.
“The season is still going. We have to play desperate. Obviously they are fighting for the playoffs, but guys are fighting for spots in here for next year, for contracts, for whatever it may be. Like I said, the biggest thing is pride and not to quit and especially not quit on each other,” he said.
Dallas sits in ninth spot in the Western Conference standings, two points back of Detroit, but with a game in hand. Currently, Dallas holds the tiebreaker between the two clubs with 18 wins in overtime or regulation. Detroit, who the Predators will host on Sunday, has one fewer at 17. More importantly for the Stars, Detroit visits Dallas to end the season on Apr. 27.