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Stars used balanced attack to dismantle Predators

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff was preaching how much his team needs balanced scoring.

That message was received, with Dallas getting goals from seven different players in an impressive 7-3 victory against the Nashville Predators on Friday night at American Airlines Center.

"We got some good breaks," Ruff said. "We had a couple put in by their defensemen. We got enough pucks going to the net and got rewarded for it."

Dallas (35-27-11, 81 points) also had five different players register multiple points, a group led by defenseman Alex Goligoski, who contributed three assists. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots.

The win moves Dallas to within three points of Phoenix, which currently holds the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Coyotes, who were idle Friday, hold a game in hand on Dallas.

Dallas struck first when center Ryan Garbutt scored his 15th on a tap-in 8:03 into the opening period.

Garbutt received a pass from left winger Antoine Roussel in the slot and quickly flipped the puck over the blocker of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne to make it 1-0.

The Stars added a second tally in the opening 20 minutes when left winger Vernon Fiddler beat Rinne with a one-timer from the right circle at 14:05. Goligoski initiated the sequence with a pass to center Colton Sceviour that he received near the Nashville blue line.

After crossing into the Predators zone, Sceviour then laid the puck off to Fiddler, who finished with a shot, again over Rinne's blocker, for his fifth of the season.

Nashville (32-32-11, 75 points) cut it to 2-1 early in the second when right winger Patric Hornqvist beat Lehtonen with a wrister through the five-hole at 2:53.

"They looked fresh. They jumped on us," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of Dallas. "They're such a good transitional team. There were only a couple of guys that I thought were really, really good up front and that's really where it all started for me, was the poor puck management."

However, it wasn't a two-goal game for long as Dallas answered at 5:37 when Sceviour scored his fifth of the season after a shot from distance by Stars defenseman Trevor Daley from near the Predators blue line deflected in off his right skate. After a short review by officials, Sceviour's goal was deemed valid.

Dallas added another at 8:58 of the second when Chiasson redirected a long-range blast from left winger Ray Whitney past Rinne for his 13th of the season, a power-play goal that made it 4-1.

The Predators would answer again when defenseman Michael Del Zotto blasted a slap shot from near the Dallas blue line through Lehtonen's wickets just 1:05 later at 9:53.

Dallas then went ahead 5-2 when Daley scored his seventh after grabbing the puck out of the air after a shot by Benn was deflected. Daley's deflection then floated over Rinne's right pad before landing in the far side of the net with 8:41 remaining in the second period.

Early in the third period, Nashville again made it a two-goal game when left winger Eric Nystrom, a former Star, beat Lehtonen short side with a wrister from the right circle 1:48 into the final frame.

However, Dallas would answer twice later in the period, off goals from rookie right winger Valeri Nichushkin and center Cody Eakin nine seconds apart to put this one away.

Nichushkin's goal, his 14th, came at 7:39 when his wrister from the right circle deflected in off the stick of Nashville defenseman Shea Weber. Eakin then added his 15th when he beat Rinne top shelf after a nice pass from Garbutt on a bang-bang play at 7:48.

"I thought we were patient," Ruff said. "There wasn't a lot going on really if I looked at the first seven minutes. We were playing the way we wanted to. I thought that part was good."

Rinne stopped 22 of 29 shots for Nashville.

NOTES: Predators RW Patrick Eaves (lower Body), C Paul Gaustad (upper body) and D Seth Jones (concussion) were scratched. ... Stars LW Erik Cole (upper body), D Kevin Connauton, C Chris Mueller, who was recalled from AHL Texas on an emergency basis on Thursday afternoon, and C Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat) were scratched. ... Prior to the start of the game, Peverley, who collapsed on the bench during the first period of a March 10 game with Columbus with a cardiac episode before being revived and sent to a local hospital, addressed the media for the first time since undergoing a successful procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat last week. ... Predators LW Eric Nystrom played 74 games for Dallas in the 2011-12 season. ... Stars D Alex Goligoski had his second three-assist performance of the season. ... Announced attendance was 18,532, a sellout.
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