NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators looked like teams headed in the same direction when both traded key players for prospects earlier in the month. After Friday night, that may not be the case.
Dallas, which entered Friday evening nipping on Detroit's heels just three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, took a big step in the right direction by beating Nashville, 5-2, at the Bridgestone Arena.
Alex Chiasson scored a pair of goals for Dallas and Ray Whitney added a goal and an assist for the Stars (20-17-3), who have now won four games in a row.
Both teams have had trouble scoring lately, but with backup goalies starting for both teams, it made life a little easier for both offenses. Dallas didn't take long to get started, as Erik Cole slapped a shot over Chris Mason's shoulder and into the net at the 6:04 mark of the first.
Just over two minutes later, the Stars struck again when Whitney took a cross-ice pass from Alex Goligoski and slammed one past Mason for a 2-0 lead on what was just the Stars' third shot of the game.
The Predators hadn't even gotten off a shot by the time Dallas had that two-goal lead. However, on Nashville's first power play of the evening, Taylor Beck picked up a loose puck in front of the net and got it past Richard Bachman to cut the lead in half at 18:42 of the first.
Dallas got that goal back at 2:28 of the third when Ryan Garbutt got behind the defense on the right side and slid the puck over Tom Wandell, stationed right in front of Mason, who easily put it away for the first goal of his season.
At 11:12, Chiasson slipped behind two Predator defenders, got right in front of Mason's nose, and took a perfect pass from Whitney to score for a 4-1 lead. Just over four minutes later, Chiasson, at the top of the right circle, snuck one under Mason's legs for an unassisted goal.
Former Predator Vernon Fiddler had a pair of assists on the first two goals for Dallas, which might now regret trading Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy away last week. The Stars have eight games remaining -- four at home, four on the road -- to Detroit's seven.
Nashville's Bobby Butler added a late goal, but it was too little, too late for the Predators (15-19-8).
Outside of those two goals, Nashville fans had little to make noise about. The Predators, who recently traded away veteran Martin Erat, have lost five straight, and have just 38 points with six games to play.
Fans took out their frustrations on Mason, with some booing the veteran after that fifth goal, which came on Dallas' 14th shot. Another smattering came as the final horn sounded.
Ironically, the Predators out-shot Dallas, 28-18, and in many cases seemed to have better opportunities. But Nashville's makeshift front lines, which include three forwards recalled from Milwaukee within the last month, consistently couldn't cash in.
NOTES: Nashville center Mike Fisher, the team's third-leading scorer, was again a scratch. Fisher hurt his hand on March 28 and has played just two games since, the last coming April 6. Fisher was joined by right-wing Brandon Yip, center Paul Gaustad and left wing Gabriel Bourque, further hampering the league's second-worst scoring attack. ... For Dallas, starting goalie Kari Lehtonen (lower body injury) was scratched after suffering what the Stars termed a "lower body injury" against Los Angeles on Tuesday. ... The Stars' Antoine Roussel and Nashville's Rich Clune dropped the gloves in the first period. Each drew five-minute penalties for fighting.