The Dallas Stars got their game back in order Tuesday night in Nashville, defeating the Predators, 2-1, at Bridgestone Arena.
Coming off an ugly 6-5 loss at Colorado Saturday, the Stars were looking for a tighter game defensively and a more determined game offensively and they got both in Tuesday's victory.
"Made some changes and asked for a better commitment for the way we need to play and I felt it started from the top down," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought our goaltender gave us a good game, and our best players led the way when it came to playing the right way."
Kari Lehtonen was sharp in net for the Stars, stopping 27 of 28 shots in his first start of the season. Lehtonen, who played the second half of Saturday's game, has stopped 39 of 41 shots in two appearances this season.
"Tried to stay calm and believe in my work," Lehtonen said. "The guys really came out flying in the first, and that was a nice way to ease into the game. And then I started to get some more action, and it was good to get going."
Adam Cracknell and Jason Spezza scored goals for the Stars, who improved to 2-1-0 on the season.
"We had a good practice the other day after a day off, and we got back to playing our game," said Spezza, who scored the game-winner midway through the third period. "Sometimes going on the road can help you. We did some good things early, and that gave us confidence to stick with it."
Video: Cracknell, Spezza lead Stars past Predators, 2-1
The Predators lost their second straight game and are now 1-2-0 on the season.
"They came out strong in the first, we didn't," said Nashville captain Mike Fisher. "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. They looked quicker. We have to be a lot better for sure. "
The Stars dominated play in the first period, outshooting the Predators 16-4 and getting the period's only power play, but the game headed to the first intermission scoreless.
"I thought we came out and set the tone in the first period, played a real sound first," Ruff said. "Didn't get rewarded for it, but I think we set the tone when we got the number of shots we did. "
The Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead at 2:55 of the second when Johnny Oduya put a shot on net from the left point, Curtis McKenzie tipped the puck and it went in off the skate of Cracknell who was positioned in front of the net.
"We're just in the right areas. That's where you are going to score goals, especially our line," said Cracknell.
But the Predators went on a power play 60 seconds after the Dallas goal and cashed in to tie the game when Fisher scored from the slot at 4:27 of the second period.
Spezza broke the tie at the 9:15 mark. After Antoine Roussel won a puck battle, he centered the puck and Spezza pushed it past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne from close range.
"We had a good forecheck going, Roussel threw it out front, and I got a little lucky," Spezza said. "Our line generated a lot of chances throughout the game. It was nice to break through and get one."
Lehtonen and the Stars held the fort the rest of the way, giving the Stars a solid win over a key divisional rival.
"We play like that," Ruff said, "we'll win a lot of hockey games."
*The Stars outshot the Predators 37-28 and had a 70-56 advantage in shot attempts.
*Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn led the Stars with 5 shots on goal. Benn led with 9 shot attempts and Cracknell was next with 8.
*The Stars blocked 20 shots in the game. Dan Hamhuis, John Klingberg, and Patrick Sharp led the way with 3 blocked shots each.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 33 of 64 faceoffs (52 percent).
*Radek Faksa won 7 of 11 faceoffs (64 percent). Jamie Benn won 6 of 11 (55 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Adam Cracknell won 4 of 6 (67 percent). Devin Shore won 6 of 15 (40 percent).
*Dan Hamhuis led the Stars with 25:07 of ice time. John Klingberg was next with 24:12.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Patrick Sharp - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Lauri Korpikoski
Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee)
Watch: Postgame Quotes
Ruff: "I thought we came out and set the tone the first period."
Spezza: "We know we have great depth. That's one of the strengths of our team."
Lehtonen: "It was a great start from us. We played really well.
Razor: "They showed attention to detail in this one."
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.