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Stars end four-game slide by defeating Devils

New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider injured in third period

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars ended a four-game losing streak by defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at American Airlines Center on Friday.

Valeri Nichushkin and Colton Sceviour each had a goal and an assist for the Stars (39-20-7), who won at home for the first time since a 4-3 victory against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 13. Jason Spezza and Vernon Fiddler scored for Dallas, and Mattias Janmark and Alex Goligoski each had two assists.

"Obviously really important," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said when asked about ending the losing streak. "It was solid from start to finish, really. We defended really well. We played strong in our own end, and I thought we got real good effort from all four lines."

The Stars pulled even in points with the Chicago Blackhawks in the race for first place in the Central Division. Each team has 85 points in 66 games; the Blackhawks have the edge because they have 39 regulation/overtime wins to 37 for the Stars.

Adam Henrique and Devante Smith-Pelly scored for New Jersey (31-28-7), which lost starting goaltender Cory Schneider with a lower-body injury 2:05 into the third period. Schneider stretched to make a save on Spezza, extending his right leg toward the post, then needed assistance to leave the ice.

Video: NJD@DAL: Nichushkin pretty move leads to opening goal

"We'll see what happens when we get back to Jersey. We don't have any updates right now," Devils coach John Hynes said of Schneider. "[I know] just that he's hurt. He made a great save and then had trouble getting up."

The Devils trailed 3-1 when Schneider was injured. Smith-Pelly made 3-2 with 4:19 remaining when he scored on a tap-in at the far post. New Jersey got a power play when Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya was called for hooking with 32 seconds remaining, but Fiddler hit the empty net with 19.8 seconds to play. It was his third goal in as many games and the 100th of his NHL career.

"Obviously, it's nice," Fiddler said. "Milestones just mean you're getting old, but I'm feeling good. I felt better the last week and a half. It's nice to contribute."

Nichushkin scored 8:01 into the first period to make it 1-0. Janmark sprung Nichushkin with a pass near the New Jersey blue line, Nichushkin raced in and beat Schneider inside the left post with a short wrist shot for his ninth goal of the season. Nichushkin was celebrating his 21st birthday.

"The best present was a win tonight, and it was a nice two points for us. I think it will help us for the next game," Nichushkin said.

New Jersey tied it 1-1 when Henrique scored 5:14 into the second period. Defenseman Adam Larsson's wrist shot from near the Dallas blue line was deflected in front of the net. The puck landed at Henrique's feet, and he finished with a backhand. It was his 23rd goal of the season and fourth in as many games.

Video: NJD@DAL: Fiddler scores empty-netter for 100th goal

But Dallas went back in front 1:11 later when Spezza scored his 23rd of the season. Janmark's pass from the left side hit a streaking Spezza, who got his stick on the puck and deflected it through Schneider's five-hole.

"I knew [Spezza] was probably going to beat his guy and he got his stick out so I just leaked it out and I knew he was going to the net there, so it was good by him to keep his stick down," Janmark said.

The Stars went ahead 3-1 at 11:24 when Sceviour redirected a wrist shot by Goligoski past Schneider for his ninth goal of the season.

Schneider made 15 saves before he was injured. Keith Kinkaid replaced him and made six saves.

"Keith came in and played great right when he went in there," Henrique said. "They had a couple opportunities he made big saves on."

Dallas lost defenseman John Klingberg to a lower-body injury early in the first period. Klingberg played 1:25 in two shifts before leaving.

"Short-term, it looks like just a little bit of time. That's just sort of a muscular thing, it looks like. We don't know exactly," Ruff said.

Ruff felt his five remaining defensemen stepped up and played an integral role in helping lock down this win.

"I thought we had a lot of real good zone time which took a little pressure off of our D," he said. "When it comes to playing in your own end, I thought there was a lot of shifts where our forwards did some good work and allowed [the defense] to get off the ice early and we didn't get trapped in our own end very often. That part was important."

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