Friday, April 12, 2013
Dallas Stars 5, Nashville Predators 2
Stars cruise to their fourth straight win in unlikely playoff push.
The Dallas Stars easily won their fourth straight game Friday night in Nashville, defeating the hapless Predators 5-2. The win improved Dallas to 20-17-3 on the season, and with 43 points they are now just one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Nashville fell to 15-19-8, their fifth straight loss.
Dallas improved to 5-0-0 on Friday night games this season, and more importantly they improved to 4-1-0 since dealing several veteran forwards at the trade deadline.
Dallas opened the scoring at 6:04 of the first period, when Vern Fiddler passed from behind the net to Erik Cole near the blue line. Cole wound up and pounded a slap shot past Predators backup goalie Chris Mason for his 8th of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
Two and a half minutes later, with Dallas on the powerplay, Alex Goligoski made a cross-ice pass to Ray Whitney on the backdoor, and Whitney converted for his 10th of the season. Dallas had a 2-0 lead before Nashville had their first shot on goal.
Things changed late in the period following an ill-advised fight between Antoine Roussel and former Stars draft pick Richard Clune. Two minutes later the Predators were on their first powerplay of the game, and converted at 18:42 when Patric Hornqvist kicked the puck across the crease and promising rookie Taylor Beck cashed in for his third goal and a 2-1 game.
The second period has traditionally been terrible for the Stars this season, but they kept pounding the depleted Predators team to turn a close game into a blowout. Dallas went up 3-1 early in the period when backup netminder Richard Bachman caught Nashville on a lazy line change. He flipped the puck to Goligoski, who sent it far up ice to Roussel, who dished it to Ryan Garbutt, who got it to Tom Wandell. Wandell shot it in from close range for his first goal of the year, at 2:28.
Midway through the period at the eleven minute mark when Whitney cycled the puck and found rookie Alex Chiasson streaking to the net. Chiasson popped it in for his fourth of the season and a 4-1 lead.
Chiasson scored his second of the night and fifth in five career NHL games at 7:03 of the third when he collected a turnover in front of his own net, skated the length of the ice and wristed on past Mason to make it 5-1. Nashville's Bobby Butler scored with less than eight minutes remaining in garbage time to cap the scoring.
Bachman was excellent in net, stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced for his second straight win. Mason struggled, particularly on the fifth goal, and made just 13 saves on 18 shots.
Dallas' next game is tomorrow night at home, where they will face the 21-12-7 San Jose Sharks.