DALLAS (AP) -The Dallas Stars talked about getting off to a fast start at their morning skate. Then they put that plan into action.
Brenden Morrow scored twice in the opening 9 minutes of Dallas' four-goal first period, and Marty Turco stopped 29 shots for his 37th career shutout in the Stars' 6-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
Brad Richards added a goal and two assists, and Loui Eriksson had a goal and an assist during the first-period outburst to help the Stars win at home for the first time this season. James Neal and rookie Jamie Benn each had two assists in the period.
"We wanted to come out in short shifts," Morrow said. "We wanted to come out with a lot of energy and get some momentum. That was a focus of ours coming in."
Dallas (2-0-3) wanted to avoid another shootout loss. This time, the Stars didn't wait around for overtime or the tiebreaker.
|Repeat of History?|
|Before anyone starts to panic, let's take a quick trip through the Preds historical archives. The last two time Nashville has made its way to the post-season, the Preds opened their campaigns with 2-3-0 starts ... with some pretty ugly performances.
In 2007-08, Nashville won its first two games and then posted three consecutive three-goal losses. That team found its niche by mid-season and roared through the second half into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in hockey – giving the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings their biggest scare of the post-season in Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
The year before, the Preds also opened 2-3-0, allowing eight goals in a loss to a Chicago team that would finish the season second to last in goals scored and allowing six goals in a loss at Minnesota, a team that would finish the season 19th in goal scoring. The '06-07 squad finished the year with 110 points, third most in the NHL.
The last two games notwithstanding, there are reasons for hope in '09-10. For starters, the Preds have played the first five games without key forwards J.P. Dumont and Jordin Tootoo. Both Dumont and Tootoo are on the mend. Reports from practice indicate that Dumont is likely to return before the end of the week. Tootoo is starting his on-ice workouts, indicating his return to the lineup may not be that far behind Dumont's. Colin Wilson, the seventh overall selection in the 2008 Entry Draft, just returned to the lineup this week and has looked at ease in his first two NHL games. Help appears on the immediate horizon.
Plus, the Preds organizational depth in encouraging. Should the Preds opt to look for assistance from within the system, several of the organization's AHL prospects have posted eye-opening stats through Milwaukee's first three games. Cal O'Reilly, a second-half call-up to the Preds last season, has scored seven points – including four assists in tonight's Admirals win at Peoria. Veteran Dave Scatchard, twice a 20-goal scorer at the NHL level, has netted goals in each of his two games with the Ads. Peter Olvecky, signed this summer to compete for time at the NHL level, has three points already this season. Ben Eaves, also signed this summer to compete for a job at the NHL level, scored a goal tonight in his season debut. Winger Andreas Thuresson, coming off a strong Training Camp with the Preds, has opened the campaign with three points in three games. On defense, highly heralded Alexander Sulzer picked up three assists in tonight's Milwaukee win and has nine shots on goal through the Ads first three contests. Sulzer's defensive partner, elite prospect Cody Franson, has two points and seven shots on goal through his first three games.
Much like the last two Preds playoff squads, the options – and talent – at both the NHL and AHL level indicate that this week's games will also prove to be just a early season blip in another Preds playoff push.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
"Shootout losses are frustrating," Eriksson said. "That's three more points we could have had. That's something we have to get better at."
Turco made sure the Stars kept their early edge, stopping nine first-period shots.
"He had some really good saves in the first period," Eriksson said. "He was big for us tonight."
Eriksson completed a two-goal night on a second-period power play, and Toby Petersen added a third-period goal.
The Predators (2-3) came out flat following Monday night's 6-1 home loss to Edmonton, losing their third straight.
"We've scored seven goals in five games now," coach Barry Trotz said. "That's not going to win you too many games. We've got to crash and bang, play stronger defense and play with urgency and a lot of focus."
Nashville starter Dan Ellis gave up three goals on three shots before he was pulled less than 7 minutes after the opening faceoff.
"It was the right decision," Ellis said. "If your goalie is not making saves, you have to make a change."
Morrow beat Ellis on a one-timer from the left circle at 3:17, and Richards converted Eriksson's centering pass 40 seconds later. Eriksson's deflection at 6:31 ended Ellis' night as Trotz brought in backup Pekka Rinne.
"It really tears the heart out of your confidence and takes a little bit of your energy when they score on the first three shots," Trotz said.
Rinne didn't fare much better, with Morrow notching his second of the night on the power play at 8:48 of the first period to make it 4-0.
Dallas skated 5-on-3 when Eriksson's rebound 1:27 into the second period stretched the lead to 5-0.
Ryan Suter had a chance to end Turco's shutout bid with 11:22 left but Suter's shot hit the right goal post. Turco also stopped a series of four quick shots with just over eight minutes remaining.
Petersen completed the scoring with 2:13 left.
NOTES: The teams met for the second time in 12 days, both in Dallas. Nashville took a 3-2 shootout victory Oct. 3 in the opener for both clubs. ... The Stars got their four first-period goals on seven shots. ... RW Jordin Tootoo (hip flexor) and LW J.P. Dumont (head) remain out for Nashville. ... The Stars are without Cs Mike Modano (ribs) and Steve Ott (oblique). ... Trotz pulled Rinne on Monday night against Edmonton after he gave up four goals on nine shots in the first period. ... Dallas D Nicklas Grossman is plus-10 for the season, and defensive partner Stephane Robidas is plus-8.