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game recap

Jason Spezza sends Stars past Predators

Center scores in third period of victory

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Jason Spezza's goal at 9:15 of the third period gave the Dallas Stars a 2-1 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

Stars forward Antoine Roussel passed the puck to the middle of the ice and Spezza was able to slide the puck past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne from the crease for his first goal of the season.

"Depth in the League is so important now," Spezza said. "You need contribution from every line different nights. I think there's going to be a lot of games in a short period of time so for [role players] to step up. Early in the year you see that sometimes, too. The goals are around the net."

Adam Cracknell gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 2:55 of the second period on a redirection. Defenseman Johnny Oduya took the original shot from the point, it was redirected by forward Curtis McKenzie and Cracknell past Rinne for Cracknell's second goal.

"Just a little hungrier around the net, getting available for that open shot," Cracknell said. "You're not always going to have the perfect shot. I think [Oduya] was just shooting at the middle of the net, it goes off of McKenzie and then off of my foot and in. We're just in the right areas, and we've got to go where the puck goes."

Predators captain Mike Fisher tied the game 1-1 at 4:27 of the second on the power play. Forward Filip Forsberg passed a puck that deflected off of Roussel and went to Fisher, who was able to shoot it past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen for his second goal.

"They came out strong in the first," Fisher said. "I didn't feel like we got our legs going at all. It just wasn't a good game for us. They won most of the battles, and they looked quicker. It was just not a good game for us. We've got to be a lot better, for sure. But the positive is [Rinne] played unbelievable. It would've been 5-1 if it wasn't for him."

Video: DAL@NSH: Fisher goes five-hole for power-play goal

The Stars outshot the Predators 16-4 in the first period, but Rinne was able to make key saves to keep the score 0-0 after one period.

Rinne finished with 35 saves.

Lehtonen had 27 saves.

Stars defensemen Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell replaced Patrik Nemeth and Jordie Benn in the lineup on the third defense pairing.

"I thought they played well," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought both of them played well. Like I said this morning, we've got eight defensemen here that can play."

Predators forward Cody Bass replaced Miikka Salomaki in the lineup on the fourth line. Salomaki will miss 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury.

Video: DAL@NSH: Lehtonen dives across the crease for save


Goal of the game

Spezza scored the game-winning goal on a scramble play in the crease. Roussel made a backhand pass toward the Predators net and Spezza was able to battle for the puck and slide it past Rinne for his first goal.

Video: DAL@NSH: Spezza jams home rebound to take the lead


Save of the game

Rinne stopped Stars forward Jamie Benn on a backhand attempt from the slot in the first period. Benn was all alone in the slot, Rinne was able to get a piece of his backhand attempt and direct the puck away from the net.


Unsung moment of the game

Roussel made a diving play on the backcheck to disrupt an odd man rush heading toward the Stars net in the second period. Predators forward Mike Ribeiro had the puck on an odd-man rush and was attempting to make a cross-ice pass. Roussel came in from behind the play and dove to disrupt the pass to keep the game 1-1.


Highlight of the game

Cracknell scored the first goal of the game for the Stars on a double redirection. Oduya took the shot, McKenzie redirected it and then Cracknell redirected it again past Rinne.

Video: DAL@NSH: Cracknell puts home goal on deflection


They said it

"I thought we came out and set the tone in the first period. Played a real sound first and didn't get really rewarded for it, but I think we set the tone when we got the number of shots we did. I thought we played a game that we'll win a lot of hockey games [playing]." -- Stars coach Lindy Ruff


Need to know

Spezza played on the right wing on the Stars' third line with Roussel and forward Radek Faksa. Spezza and Faksa both took faceoffs situationally and both players finished with a 60 percent faceoff winning percentage or better. Spezza was 3-of-5 in the faceoff circle and Faksa was 7-of-11.

Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto will be out for 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. Bitetto sustained the injury in a fight with Chicago Blackhawks forward Jordin Tootoo in the second period of a 3-2 win Friday.


Video: DAL@NSH: Lehtonen robs Smith on the doorstep


What's next?

Stars: Home against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, FS-SW, NHL.TV).

Predators: At the Detroit Red Wings on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-TN, NHL.TV).


Video: Cracknell, Spezza lead Stars past Predators, 2-1

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