Dallas Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft (30) blocks a shot by Nashville Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist (27), of Sweden, in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Dallas goalie Andrew Raycroft earned third-star honours after the Stars' victory over the Nashville Predators.
His teammates thought he should have been the first star.
Raycroft made 44 saves, and the Stars extended the Predators' losing streak to five games with a 4-2 win on Tuesday night.
"Our goalie played unbelievable," Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas said. "Without him we didn't have a chance."
Dallas coach Marc Crawford liked what he saw from Raycroft in the first two periods. He gave Robidas, who blocked four shots and made a team-leading five hits, much of the credit for the way the Stars performed defensively.
"Actually, Robidas should have been the first star," Crawford said. "He blocked a lot of shots. He cleaned up a lot of the problems that we had.
"Raycroft was very good, as well. Our players recognized that in the last part of the first period and in the second period that Raycroft stood his ground. He was really swarmed in the second."
Raycroft praised his teammates for their 25 blocked shots.
"Nashville has some big bodies that they like to put up front," Raycroft said. "Their defencemen are pretty talented a getting through.
"I thought our 'D' did a great job. We didn't give up too many rebound chances. They blocked a lot of shots stepping in front. I don't see half of those shots. They saved us goals."
Raycroft wasn't surprised that the Predators peppered him with 46 shots even though they were without four of their top six forwards.
"Nashville always plays a hard, disciplined game," Raycroft said. "They put a lot of pressure on you. It doesn't matter what the names are. This is the NHL, the best players in the world."
It was a physical game with 16 penalties, including four fighting majors, two for each team. Each team also had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
"Nashville is a tough team to play against," Robidas said. "They have a good mix of skills and grit. They are a good skating team. They have good goaltending."
For the Stars it was often a case of being in the right places at the right time.
"We didn't give up a lot of chances because of giveaways or turnovers," Crawford said. "Whether it was a chip off the board to the right guy skating or pass through a stick to another guy's stick. We needed the great performances from Raycroft and Robidas but we also needed contributions from everybody and we got them."
Colin Wilson scored two goals for Nashville in a span of 1:32.
"I thought Colin was skating, and that was number one," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He was taking the puck hard to the net and he was getting his nose a little bit dirty. That is how he has to play."
The Predators outshot Dallas 16-8 in the first period with neither team scoring a goal. In the second, Nashville held an 18-7 advantage and each team scored once.
Steve Ott gave Dallas a 1-0 lead at 4:39 of the second. Loui Eriksson backhanded the puck across the crease from the right side. Ott scored into the left side of the net as goalie Pekka Rinne was out of position.
Wilson tied it with a power-play goal with one minute remaining in the second. He backhanded a shot over the outstretched pads of Raycroft.
In the third period, Wilson struck again 32 seconds in on a breakaway. He beat Raycroft with a backhander from close range.
Dallas answered at 1:44 into the period when Eriksson's snap shot from low in the slow went high over Rinne's shoulder.
Mark Fistric scored on a wrist shot at 8:18, and Krystofer Barch added the fourth goal at 10:05 as he crashed the crease to beat Rinne with a wrist shot. It was the first goal of the season for Fistric and Barch.
"I thought the third period was our best," Crawford said. "It wasn't our best game, but it was certainly the hardest of the last three that we have played. When you get two unlikely guys like Fistric and Barch to score for you then you should win.
"We started to get more puck control and more control in our play, especially in the offensive zone in the third. When we did that we found a few seams and took advantage of the chances that we got."
NOTES: Chris Mueller made his debut for the Predators against Dallas after signing a two-way contract Monday. Ott has points in four of eight games. The North Carolina and Tennessee football teams were in the sellout crowd as part of Music City Bowl activities. It was Wilson's first multigoal game this season.