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Predators Hunt Down Stars


A healthy Ville Peltonen and a happy Mike Dunham gave the Nashville Predators the perfect 1-2 punch Saturday night.

Peltonen, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, got his first goal and added an assist as the Predators upset the Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars 3-2.

Dunham, in just his second start after a three-week contract dispute during training camp, stopped 36 of 38 shots.

"It seems so long when you're not playing a year," Peltonen said. "It's great to be out there playing and practicing all the time."

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  • "And it seems like it's better for Mike to miss training camp."

    The victory, Nashville's first at home after three losses, came on the heels of a 5-1 loss to the Sharks in which the Predators took 52 shots.

    "Tonight was a big win," Dunham said. "We came out against San Jose and played well, and I think we picked it up where we left off."

    The Predators had a 3-0 lead until Mike Modano scored twice for the Stars, who have scored just 18 goals in eight games.

    "I don't think you can mount comebacks, it takes a lot of energy," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We played much better today. We had a lot of chances. Their goalie was good."

    Stars forward Jere Lehtinen fractured his ankle in the second period, and is out 6-8 weeks. Defenseman Richard Matvichuk reinjured his left knee, which will be examined Sunday.

    "Not only are we struggling on the ice, it sees like guys are dropping left and right," Dallas captain Derian Hatcher said.

    "We can't worry about the injuries."

    Cliff Ronning put Nashville up 1-0 on a power-play goal at 5:48 of the first, tipping Craig Millar's shot from the left point past Stars goaltender Manny Fernandez's stick. It was just the second time in six games the Predators scored first.

    Nashville's Greg Johnson and Scott Walker worked a give-and-go at 12:40 to make it 2-0. Walker skated into the right circle and faked a shot, but instead passed to Johnson in the slot. Johnson pushed the puck by a startled Fernandez for his first goal of the year.

    Modano's frustration showed at the end of the period, when he picked up an elbowing penalty in a shoving match with Walker.

    It didn't get any better early in the second for the Stars, who fell behind 3-0 when Peltonen scored the eventual game-winner on a backhand from the slot. Dunham made a sprawling save on Modano's backhander moments later.

    Modano finally cut it to 3-1 at 13:52 of the second. He collided with Dunham as the goalie was clearing the puck into the left corner. While Dunham was still down, Warren Luhning passed to Modano in the crease for an easy score.

    Dunham made a sliding save on Darryl Sydor's shot during a power play before Modano made it 3-2 on a breakaway 4:49 into the third, putting a wrist shot over Dunham's glove. Dunham then made another glove save on Sydor's slap shot to preserve the lead.

    "They played last night, so I think we caught them on their heels," Dunham said. "We took it to them in the first period, got some bounces, and held on for the win."

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