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Cole scores pair as Stars beat Predators

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Playing the hero isn't a regular thing for Erik Cole, but when he is called upon to step up for the Dallas Stars, the veteran left winger rises to the occasion. On Friday night, Cole had a pair of goals for Dallas in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center.

The Stars (19-12-6, 44 points) are 4-0-0 this season when Cole registers multiple points, and the veteran winger scored twice in the second period.

"I think Erik has played well for a good bit of time," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's physical. When he's on the puck, he's hard to knock off."

Defenseman Alex Goligoski had two assists for Dallas, who also got a 33-save performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

"I thought he was pretty good," Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said of Lehtonen. "We got a couple real good looks and he stood tall."

Cole's first goal came at 7:38, just 24 seconds after Nashville had tied it when he beat Predators goaltender Carter Hutton with a wrister from the right circle as Stars center Colton Sceviour screened Hutton.

Cole then gave Dallas a two-goal lead at 14:04, when he faked out Hutton by stopping just outside the crease, forcing the Nashville netminder to the ice. Cole then flipped a backhand just inside the right post for his eighth goal of the season.

"I built up some speed, and (Goligoski) put a great pass on my tape, and I had a great lane to the net," Cole said. "I decided to hit the brakes and wait. There wasn't as much room as I thought there would be, but I was fortunate and it went in."

The Stars had taken an early lead when left winger and captain Jamie Benn scored his 12th of the season on a wrapround just 42 seconds into the game. Benn got the puck from Goligoski in the neutral zone and skated up the left side of the ice and around the right side of the Nashville net before slipping the puck in to make it 1-0.

Nashville's lone goal came in the second period when defenseman Kevin Klein beat Lehtonen with a wrister from the low slot at 7:38 for his first of the season. Klein's goal briefly tied the score at 1.

"That first shift after a goal is critical," Trotz said. "You want to get it in and get some zone time so you can keep some momentum. We didn't do that."

Dallas, who was starting a five-game homestand, added a goal from left winger Ryan Garbutt, who scored his sixth of the season, off a tip-in early in the third period.

The Stars had a goal waved off at 1:55 of the first period when defenseman Kevin Connauton batted in a rebound off a shot by Sceviour.

At 2:20 of the first period, Lehtonen robbed Nashville left winger Gabriel Bourque at the far post with a glove save to preserve the slim lead.

Dallas had another golden opportunity to add to their lead late in the first when left winger Antoine Roussel was awarded a penalty shot with 3:25 remaining after Nashville defenseman Victor Bartley tripped him on a breakaway. However, Roussel's backhand went to the right of the Predators' net.

The Stars had yet another scoring opportunity 1:40 into the second period when center Tyler Seguin and rookie right winger Valeri Nichushkin had a 2-on-1. But Nichushkin's snap shot rang off the right post and fluttered away from danger.

Hutton stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced.

Nashville (16-18-4, 36 points) saw its winless streak grow to five games.

"We've got to score some timely goals. We've got to play good defense and we need everybody (to contribute)," Trotz said. "Our 5-on-5 and special teams are obviously going to have to be huge, but there isn't any room for error right now."

NOTES: Predators LW Rich Clune and D Mattias Ekholm were the scratches for Nashville. ... Stars rookie RW Alex Chiasson and C Dustin Jeffrey were scratched by Dallas. ... Predators rookie D Seth Jones is a native of Dallas suburb Arlington and was making his first appearance at the American Airlines Center, a venue where he and his family attended Stars home games. ... Nashville LW Eric Nystrom spent two seasons in Dallas before signing with the Predators last offseason. ... Stars C Vernon Fiddler made his NHL debut with Nashville in November 2002 and played 305 games for the Predators before signing with Dallas in July 2011. ... Dallas backup G Dan Ellis appeared in 110 games for Nashville over three seasons between 2007-10. ... With Dallas LW Antoine Roussel misfiring on a first-period penalty shot, the Stars are now 2-for-5 this season on penalty shots. ... Announced attendance was 17,197.
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