There’s been a lot of talk about the Dallas Stars needing secondary scoring down the stretch and they got it Friday night. A lot of it. Seven different players scored goals and 13 players registered points as the Stars rolled over Nashville, 7-3 at American Airlines Center.
None of those seven goals and only two of the team’s 19 assists came from Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who have carried the bulk of the scoring at times.
“Us role guys want to chip in a little bit more, but it’s not easy to score in this league,” said Stars forward Vernon Fiddler. “These are the games where we all need to chip in, It’s nice to get some depth scoring, and we have to continue to do that. The big guns need some help with that because it takes a little bit of pressure off them.”
Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Colton Sceviour, Alex Chiasson, Trevor Daley, Valeri Nichushkin and Cody Eakin all tallied for the Stars. Alex Goligoski had three assists and Antoine Roussel had two helpers.
“It was nice to have contributions from a lot of guys,” said Sceviour. “Hopefully that gets the ball rolling and gets the confidence up so that can continue.”
The victory and two points were huge for the Stars, who pulled to within three points of Phoenix for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are also within four points of Minnesota, which holds the first wild card spot. The Stars have a game in hand on both those teams.
“You can’t afford to take a night off and lose points anywhere. You’ve got to keep pace with everybody,” said Fiddler. “It seems like this time of year everybody finds ways to win. We just have to worry about our destiny and keep pushing, get as many points as we can and put some pressure on other teams.”
The Predators had a four-game points streak snapped with the regulation loss.
“I think we just lacked a little poise tonight,” said Nashville forward Eric Nystrom. “They had a lot of energy and we were just kind of forcing plays in the right places. They did a great job putting pucks in front of the net and getting traffic there. They had the bodies going to the net all night and they got redirect goals. We couldn’t stop the rush.”
The Predators had played the night before and the Stars wanted to get off to a good start. They did, scoring twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
“We knew we had to jump on them quick, put them away early,” said Daley. “I thought we did a good job tonight.”
"I thought we were patient,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There wasn’t a lot going on if I looked at the first seven minutes but I thought we were playing the way we wanted to and staying patient. I thought that part was good. We knew they played last night. These back-to-backs are tough turnovers and if you get down and try to chase a game it usually just gets worse."
A couple minutes after killing off an early Nashville power play, the Stars took a 1-0 lead. Roussel centered the puck from the right corner and Garbutt redirected it past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne at 8:03 of the first.
The Stars made it a 2-0 game a little more than six minutes later when Sceviour set up Fiddler off the rush, and Fiddler beat Rinne on a shot from the right circle at the 14:05 mark.
“I saw Scevs getting some ice, I tried to get open on the side and he made a great play to me,” said Fiddler, who snapped a 12-game goal scoring drought. “I tried to get it off as quick as I can. I’ve been focusing on shooting the puck a little bit more. If you don’t shoot you don’t score and thankfully it went in.”
The Stars controlled play for the first few minutes of the second period, but the Predators scored on their first shot of the frame to cut Dallas’ lead 2-1. Defenseman Roman Josi carried the puck into the Dallas zone and set up Patric Hornqvist, who scored from the slot at the 2:53 mark.
Less than three minutes later the Stars had their two-goal lead back. With Nashville forward Nick Spaling hobbled after blocking a shot and playing without a stick, the Stars kept the Predators pinned in their own end until a Daley shot from the point was deflected into the net by Sceviour at 5:37 of the period.
“I just went to the net and tried to give him a stick to shoot at. It ended up bouncing off my foot and in. it wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but I can’t complain,” said Sceviour.
The Stars made it 4-1 by cashing in on their first power play of the night. Alex Chiasson deflected a Ray Whitney point shot into the net.
Nashville cut the lead to 4-2 just 55 seconds later when defenseman Michael Del Zotto scored on a shot from the point.
And 96 seconds after that the Stars scored to make it a 5-2 game when Daley put the puck past Rinne during a scramble in front of the Nashville net.
“It was one of those that you put it to the net and something good happens,” Daley said.
Nashville’s Eric Nystrom scored at 1:48 of the third to cut the Stars’ lead to 5-3, but six minutes later Valeri Nichushkin and Cody Eakin scored goals 11 seconds apart to make it a 7-3 game.
The Stars now head to St. Louis, where they play the league-leading Blues Saturday night.
“We got the game we wanted [tonight] and now we have to go out and get the game tomorrow,” said Ruff. “We played a good game in St. Louis last time. We need to score and St. Louis doesn’t give up a lot but if you can get two or three you can get yourself in a ballgame with them, although they’ve really been on a run here lately."
This story was not subject to the 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.