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Stars grind out 3-1 win over Devils

by Steve Hunt
DALLAS -- Vernon Fiddler scored the tie-breaking goal midway through the third period as the Dallas Stars continued their hot start by beating the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.

"I thought it was a hard-fought win," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We'll take the two points. I thought it was a good effort. "

Loui Eriksson scored in the first period for the Stars, now 5-1-0 at home and 8-3-0 overall, and Sheldon Souray hit the empty net with 2.7 seconds to play as the Stars were killing off a penalty.

Kari Lehtonen improved to 8-1-0 in nine appearances this season by stopping 31 of 32 shots. Johan Hedberg stopped 20 of 22 for the Devils, who fell to 4-4-1 after losing for the second time in three road games this week.

"Both goalies were good," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "[Hedberg] always gives us a good game and Lehtonen obviously has had a great start for them. He's playing with a lot of confidence in the net."

The Stars, who rebounded after a 5-3 home loss to Los Angeles on Thursday, improved to 6-1-0 when being outshot.

"I feel we got a couple of tough breaks in that game [against L.A.] but tonight was good," Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "We didn't panic after they came back and tied it. After that, I thought we were real calm. It's a good step."

Eriksson put the Stars on the board first by beating Hedberg top shelf at 10:51 of the opening period. The All-Star winger started the sequence by feeding Steve Ott, who then returned the favor, setting up Eriksson for his sixth goal of the season.

After a quiet start to the second period, Petr Sykora tied the game at the 12-minute mark with his first goal of the season. Patrik Elias won an offensive-zone faceoff against Fiddler and Sykora's long slapper beat Lehtonen to the glove side for the equalizer.

Fiddler put Dallas ahead to stay with 8:26 left in regulation when Fiddler took a pass from Radek Dvorak and slid the puck from the right of the net into the crease, where it hit the skate of defenseman Mark Fayne and through Hedberg's legs.

"He's a worker and he's pretty good in the circle. He's a guy that has high character," Gulutzan said of Fiddler. "We're real fortunate to have him."

New Jersey pulled Hedberg with 1:24 left and just 34 seconds later, the Devils went on the power play one final time after Michael Ryder was whistled for interference. But the Devils were unable to get a shot on goal before Souray scaled the puck down the ice and into the empty net.

New Jersey returns home after a 2-2-0 road trip to host Toronto on Wednesday, while Dallas will have six days off before hosting Colorado on Friday.

While the Devils were pleased with their effort in the loss, they admitted this loss is a tough result to stomach.

"Those kinds of games are going to happen," New Jersey defenseman Henrik Tallender said. "You have to feel good with the way you played. We can go out here with our heads high. It's a tough loss, though."
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