NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont are friends away from the rink and have something very nice working on the ice for the Nashville Predators.
Arnott scored two power-play goals off assists from Dumont and had an assist of his own, leading the Predators to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in their home opener Saturday night.
"He seems to find me wherever I am," Arnott said of Dumont. "We kind of created that chemistry and bond. We're talking all the time. When we're coming to the bench, he's saying, 'Did you see me here? Did you see me there?' Because next time when you get on the ice, he's going to be there."
Dumont also had a third assist on Shea Weber's goal as the Predators bounced back from an opening 5-2 loss in St. Louis less than 24 hours earlier. They outshot Dallas 32-20, and Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he talked earlier to his team needing to find their identity after giving up four power-play goals in St. Louis.
"They responded. They took it as a challenge and said that we are better than we were yesterday," Trotz said.
Sean Avery, the Stars' off-season addition, picked up a game misconduct and a fighting major early in the first period. Trevor Daley scored the only goal for Dallas, which came in after a 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus in its own home opener in which it had to score twice late to force overtime and at least get a point.
But the Predators came out with much more urgency in front of a sold-out crowd.
That might have something to do with this being the second of three games in four nights is part of a stretch where Nashville will play four of the first five on the road. That includes being the visitor for home openers in Chicago on Monday night and Oct. 17 in Columbus.
"I think everybody just dug down deep tonight," Arnott said. "Home opener gives you a little more energy. That crowd gives you a lot more energy. It was an exciting building to play in."
The Stars are searching for answers.
"This is a new team, and we have to form our own identity," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "And right now, we're not even close. We need to find some people who can get the job done."
Weber scored on a wrister from in front of the net 46 seconds into the game as Nashville outshot Dallas 15-6 in the first period.
Daley tied the score 76 seconds later with his own wrist shot for his second goal in as many games for Dallas.
The game almost spun out of control at 8:36 of the period when Jordin Tootoo gave a little elbow to goalie Marty Turco after the two skated from the back boards out near the right post of the goal. Tippett said Tootoo slashed Turco in the hands, starting fights that led to nine combined penalties.
Tootoo only got a roughing penalty, but B.J. Crombeen and Nashville defenceman Greg de Vries got fighting majors. Then Avery and Nashville defenceman Dan Hamhuis started punching, drawing the game misconducts for being in the second fight on the ice.
Arnott defended Tootoo and said Turco overreacted, prompting Steve Ott to defend his goalie, and the Nashville captain said Avery taunted Hamhuis into their fight.
Then Arnott put Nashville up 2-1 with a power-play goal as he beat Turco at 10:54 off a pass from Dumont.
Turco kept the Stars within 2-1 with some dazzling stops, including one nearly eight minutes into the second as he threw himself back to his left to stop a shot from Arnott. Tippett took a timeout at 15:39 of the second, but it didn't help.
Arnott helped seal the victory when Ott was penalized for high-sticking and put the Predators on the power play again. Martin Erat passed the puck to Dumont in the right circle, and he found Arnott in front of the goal. Arnott almost missed, then poked the puck past a sprawling Turco at 16:13 for the 3-1 lead.
"We still have some bad habits that occurred in the pre-season, and we're kidding ourselves if we think we have a clean slate after that," Turco said of a 1-5-1 pre-season record.
Notes: Dallas had been 11-5-1 over the past 17 games with Nashville, and had won seven of the past 11. But the Stars went 1-3 against Nashville last season and 0-for-26 on the power play. The Stars were shut out 0-for-5 with the man advantage Saturday night. ... Ellis gave up five goals on 22 shots in St. Louis, but he is now 3-1 against his old team.