With six weeks to play in the regular season, the Dallas Stars are faring about as well as the Republican opposition to Donald Trump.
Antoine Roussel had a goal and an assist and Jason Spezza and Vernon Fiddler also scored for the Stars, but they fell 5-3 on Tuesday night to the Nashville Predators for their fourth straight loss and seventh in eight games.
Shea Weber had a goal and two assists in his return following a three-game absence to lead the Predators. Weber, who had been sidelined by a lower-body injury, has 12 power-play goals this season.
Craig Smith and James Neal each had a goal and an assist, and Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won a season-high five straight. Pekke Rinne made 35 saves.
Antti Niemi stopped 14 of 18 shots for the Stars before being relieved by Kari Lehtonen midway through the second.
Smith scored the game’s first goal at 12:38 of the opening period.
From behind the Dallas net, Mike Ribeiro found Smith stationed just outside of the crease on the right side, where he beat Niemi with a quick snap shot.
Just 10 seconds later, Roussel beat Nashville defenseman Anthony Bitetto on the right side and was able to cut toward the net and slip the puck between Rinne’s left skate and the post.
Early in the second, Bitetto carried the puck into the Dallas zone and left a drop pass for Neal, who sent a shot toward the net. Skating through the slot, Jarnkrok bunted the puck like a baseball batter, sending it off of the knob of Niemi’s stick and into the net.
Weber made it 3-1 at 9:17 of the second on a power play with a one-timer from above the left circle off a pass from Roman Josi.
Ekholm followed 31 seconds later with a backhand from the right circle, spelling the end of the night for Niemi.
Dallas made it 4-2 at 16:28 of the second. With the Stars on a two-man advantage, Spezza poked in a loose puck in the crease.
Neal made it 5-2 at 5:37, but Fiddler, a former Predator, cut Nashville’s lead back to two goals at 10:30 with his ninth goal of the season.
First Period—1, Nashville, C.Smith 15 (Ribeiro, Weber), 12:38. 2, Dallas, Roussel 10 (Eakin), 12:48. Penalties—C.Smith, Nas (interference), 15:09.
Second Period—3, Nashville, Jarnkrok 13 (Neal, Bitetto), 1:35. 4, Nashville, Weber 16 (Josi, C.Smith), 9:17 (pp). 5, Nashville, Ekholm 7 (Wilson, Arvidsson), 9:48. 6, Dallas, Spezza 22 (Ja.Benn, Klingberg), 16:28 (pp). Penalties—Ja.Benn, Dal (interference), 8:28; Roussel, Dal (roughing), 12:42; Bitetto, Nas (roughing), 12:42; Josi, Nas (cross-checking), 15:07; Salomaki, Nas (high-sticking), 16:06; Faksa, Dal (holding), 18:30.
Third Period—7, Nashville, Neal 22 (Weber, Johansen), 5:37. 8, Dallas, Fiddler 9 (Goligoski, Roussel), 10:30. Penalties—Demers, Dal (cross-checking), 3:02; Roussel, Dal (roughing), 6:04; Ja.Benn, Dal, major (fighting), 19:47; Gaustad, Nas, major (fighting), 19:47.
Shots on Goal—Dallas 17-10-11—38. Nashville 10-14-10—34. Power-play opportunities—Dallas 1 of 3; Nashville 1 of 4. Goalies—Dallas, Niemi 22-12-6 (18 shots-14 saves), Lehtonen (9:48 second, 16-15). Nashville, Rinne 25-18-9 (38-35). A—17,113 (17,113). T—2:45.