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game recap

Weber powers Predators past Stars

Defenseman has goal, two assists in return to lineup

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Shea Weber had a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup to help the Nashville Predators to a 5-3 win against the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

Weber missed the three previous games with a lower-body injury.

Pekka Rinne made 35 saves for Nashville (32-21-11), which has won five games in a row and has at least a point in 10 straight (7-0-3).

"Everyone knows it just matters if you get in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]," Weber said. "Your confidence is going to be where it's at, and if you're able to get on a roll at whatever time in the playoffs if you're in, you have a chance to win. I think our goal is to keep playing well in preparation for each game and not taking any team lightly."

Video: DAL@NSH: Predators score 31 seconds apart

Weber scored on the power play to make it 3-1 at 9:17 of the second period. He one-timed a pass from defenseman Roman Josi past Stars goaltender Antti Niemi for his 16th goal.

"Obviously, with the way the guys were playing while I was out, I was a little nervous to come back and didn't want to be the reason that we lost the game," Weber said. "It was a big win. I thought the guys did a good job. That's a very good team over there, and they're able to score. Even at the end there when it's 5-3, you're still thinking in your head that they're a team that's capable of coming back. I think we did a good job of buckling down."

Dallas (38-20-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1) and is 1-5-2 in its past eight games.

Craig Smith gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 12:38 of the first period on a wrist shot from the slot. Forward Mike Ribeiro passed from behind the net to Smith, who was able to shoot it through traffic past Niemi for his 15th goal.

Video: DAL@NSH: Neal's quick shot increases the lead

"It's just collectively doing a lot of things the right way," Smith said. "We're running our systems perfect, and if not, I think our decisions on breakdowns have been really good. That's key in taking away chances."

Stars forward Antoine Roussel scored 10 seconds later to tie it 1-1. Roussel got around Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto and slid the puck past Rinne for his 10th goal.

Calle Jarnkrok gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 1:35 of the second period on a redirection from in front of the Stars net. Forward James Neal lofted a pass toward the net that Jarnkrok tipped past Niemi for his 13th goal.

"It wasn't easy tonight," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Dallas has a really good team. In the first period, they had a lot of attempts, a lot of scoring chances at our net. I thought we got better defensively as the game went on, and in the second period, we really did a good job of eliminating them and just playing smart."

Video: DAL@NSH: Spezza nets PPG on the backhander

Mattias Ekholm gave the Predators a 4-1 lead 31 seconds after Weber's power-play goal when he scored on a backhand shot from the right faceoff circle. It was his seventh goal.

Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi following Ekholm's goal.

"We know [the goaltending] has got to be better," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We're trying hard defensively to clean things up. I thought we played a great first period. Gave up a big rush chance at the start of the second, which I thought got them a little bit fired up."

Lehtonen made 15 saves on 16 shots after relieving Niemi, who allowed four goals on 18 shots.

Video: DAL@NSH: Fiddler deflects it past Rinne

After Jason Spezza scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 16:38 of the second to make it 4-2, Neal scored to make it 5-2 at 5:37 of the third period. Neal one-timed a pass from Weber past Lehtonen from the top of the right faceoff circle for his 22nd goal.

The Stars' Vernon Fiddler scored with 9:30 remaining to make it 5-3.

Dallas forward Patrick Sharp left the game late in the second period with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Defenseman Kris Russell made his Stars debut after being traded from the Calgary Flames on Monday. He was paired with Jordie Benn.

Video: Weber, Rinne lead Predators in 5-3 win over Stars

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