NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Dallas Stars got probably their best start to a game all season, and Matt Duchene got a bit of revenge against the team that bought him out last summer with a big performance.

Sam Steel scored 35 seconds after the puck dropped, and the Dallas Stars scored four goals in the first 16 minutes on the way to a 9-2 rout of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

“Sometimes we’re a slow-starting team, and that definitely wasn’t the case tonight,” Duchene said of the Stars' start. “That was great.”

Duchene scored two goals against his old team after being bought out by the Predators last summer. Another former Nashville player, Craig Smith, scored in the early flurry for the Central Division leaders.

Wyatt Johnson made it 4-0 at 15:53 as he finished with two goals and two assists.

Tyler Seguin and Ty Dellandrea had a goal and two assists apiece as Dallas won its third straight. Miro Heiskanen also had a goal. Eleven Stars had at least one point, and Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said they looked rested and strong.

“I thought Duchene’s line was fantastic,” DeBoer said. “They created something every time they were out there. Everyone was going tonight. We didn’t have any passengers.”

The Stars split the season series with Nashville 2-2 and made up for a 6-3 loss in Dallas the last time the teams met on Jan. 12. They dominated from the start as they chase Vancouver atop the Western Conference.

Cole Smith and Tommy Novak scored for Nashville, which has lost five of six. Michael McCarron had an assist as he skated in his 200th career NHL game.

Nashville got its first shot on net with about 6 minutes remaining in the first. It was a lackadaisical start for a franchise two points out of the West's two wild-card spots three weeks ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

First-year coach Andrew Brunette made it clear he wasn't happy with one of the ugliest first periods he could remember. He stayed on the bench chomping his gum hard after his Predators went to the locker room after the first 20 minutes.

“We weren’t ready to play, and it was evident tonight,” Brunette said. "We got what we deserved.”

After Steel started the scoring, Duchene, who came in as the Stars' second-leading scorer, put on his own show.

Duchene got his 20th to make it 2-0 and added his 21st on a backhander with 12.3 seconds left in the second for a 7-2 lead. He has 52 points in 53 games for Dallas after totaling 56 points in 71 games for Nashville last season.

The Stars outshot Nashville 18-1 over the first 20 minutes. But it was a costly period for Dallas. Defenseman Nils Lundkvist played only two shifts before leaving with an upper body injury.

Nashville pulled Juuse Saros after he gave up four goals on 18 shots. Kevin Lankinen didn't fare much better, giving up three goals on 15 shots faced in the second alone.

The Stars scored two more in the third with Johnston finishing it with a power-play goal to cap their mothers' road trip. Dallas used Scott Wedgewood in net after Jake Oettinger made 20 saves through two periods. DeBoer said that move was just for rest.


The Stars return home and host Edmonton on Saturday.

Nashville starts a five-game road swing Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.



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