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Stars’ Spezza slaps in winner, continues to torment Predators

Shots eventually turned into a decisive goal for the Dallas Stars.

Jason Spezza scored midway through the third period to give Dallas a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Adam Cracknell got his second goal of the season for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves.

Making his first start of the season, Lehtonen was not tested early, making just four saves in the first period. The Stars outshot Nashville 37-28 in the game.

“The guys came out flying, the first period was really good for us,” Lehtonen said. “That was a nice way to ease into the game and then I started getting more action.”

Mike Fisher scored for Nashville (1-2) early in the second period to tie it 1-1. The Predators have lost two straight.

Spezza’s tiebreaking goal came 9:15 into the third. Antoine Roussel had the puck in the right corner and sent it out front, where Spezza was able get his stick on it and tip it past goaltender Pekka Rinne. It was Spezza’s first point of the season.

Spezza has at least one point in his last five games against Nashville, with six goals and two assists in that span, and 11 goals and 10 assists in 19 career games against the Predators.

The Stars outshot Nashville 16-4 in a scoreless first period, and then Cracknell made it 1-0 2:55 into the second.

“I thought we came out and set the tone in the first period, played a real sound first,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “We didn’t get really rewarded for it, but I think we set the tone when we got the number of shots we did.”

Johnny Oduya’s shot from the left point was first deflected by Curtis McKenzie in the high slot and then tipped again by Cracknell, who was standing just to the right of Rinne.

“You’re not always going to have the perfect shot,” Cracknell said. “I think Johnny O was just shooting at the middle of the net. It goes off McKenzie and then off my foot and in. We’re just in the right areas.”

Rinne finished with 35 saves.

Fisher tied it 4:27 into the second on the power play.

From the left corner, Filip Forsberg found Fisher in the low slot, where he snapped a wrist shot past Lehtonen.

“I didn’t feel like we got our legs going at all,” Fisher said. “It just wasn’t a good game for us.”

Five of Nashville’s seven goals this season have come via the power play.

“We didn’t get anything going,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “The power play, I thought we got it in the zone, we set it up and moved it around. Could have been a little more patient at times. Five-on-five it wasn’t there.”

Fisher succeeded Shea Weber as Nashville’s captain after Weber was traded to Montreal in the off-season in exchange for P.K. Subban.

Nashville’s opponents have scored first in each of their three games this season. The Predators played without D Anthony Bitetto and RW Miikka Salomaki, who are both sidelined multiple weeks with upper body injuries.

The Stars return home for a game Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings. The Predators head to Detroit on Friday to play the Red Wings.











First Period—None. Penalties—Johansen, NSH, (high sticking), 12:04.

Second Period—1, Dallas, Cracknell 2 (Oduya, Mckenzie), 2:55. 2, Nashville, Fisher 2 (Forsberg, Johansen), 4:27 (pp). Penalties—Sharp, DAL, (hooking), 3:55; Ellis, NSH, (roughing), 4:48; Korpikoski, DAL, (interference), 4:48; Ritchie, DAL, (high sticking), 14:41.

Third Period—3, Dallas, Spezza 1 (Roussel), 9:15. Penalties—Oduya, DAL, (hooking), 0:34; Josi, NSH, (holding stick), 4:15.

Shots on Goal—Dallas 16-10-11—37. Nashville 4-14-10—28. Power-play opportunities—Dallas 0 of 2; Nashville 1 of 3. Goalies—Dallas, Lehtonen 1-1-0 (28 shots-27 saves). Nashville, Rinne 1-1-0 (37-35). A—17,113 (17,113). T—2:29.

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