for this game

Smith records second career shutout as Stars top Predators

Nov 23, 2006 - 4:30 AM
DALLAS (Ticker) -- Rookie Mike Smith is gradually finding a comfort zone in goal for the Dallas Stars.

Smith made 17 saves for his second shutout and Jeff Halpern scored his third goal of the season for the Stars, who won for the fourth time in six games with a 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.

In winning for the seventh time in nine home contests, Dallas raised its record to 8-1-1 in its last 10 meetings against Nashville and has taken 13 of the last 15 home encounters against the Predators.

"It's nice to get this one and I hope we can keep the momentum going," Halpern said. "Points are very important because it seems like every team is playing well."

"We've had some close games," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We haven't been on the positive side. Nothing about the building. They're just a solid team."

Smith became the first goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut when he made 22 saves against the Phoenix Coyotes on October 22. In this one, he stopped five shots in the first period, nine in the second and three in the third.

"I don't know if I'm surprised," Smith said. "I think I've been ready to do this for a few years now. I've practiced hard and that's what you have to do when you are the backup goalie."

"He has poise in the net (and) size in the net," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "His puck play outside the net was good and he was solid and gave us a chance to win."

After two scoreless periods, the Stars took advantage of an odd bounce by the puck in the Predators' zone to get on the scoreboard.

Niklas Hagman fired a shot from the left faceoff circle, which momentarily froze netminder Tomas Vokoun. The puck took a hard bounce off the end boards, directly to Halpern, who stuffed the puck into the open side of the net.

"Just on a rush," Halpern said. "A good shot by (Hagman). The ricochet came of the endboard. For me, it was going to spot where the puck ended up and finding the goalie out of position."

"I lost it and it came off the boards right back at to their player," Vokoun said. It's something you can really prevent. Sometimes you get a good bounce and sometimes you get a bad bounce."

Dallas had the first opportunity to score at 6:40 of the first period, thanks to Nashville captain Kimo Timonen, who hooked Mike Modano as he attempted a breakaway, which led to a penalty shot.

However, Modano failed to capitalize as his shot from between the faceoff circles hit the right goalpost. He has missed all four of his career penalty shots.

"He went down and took a shot at the post and it went wide," Vokoun said. "That was about it."

Vokoun made 25 saves and fell to 10-4-1 for the Predators, who lost for just the second time in 11 contests.

"We've had some really close games (against Dallas), losing in the last period and not getting any breaks," Predators left wing Scott Hartnell said. "A few years ago, we could never win in St. Louis and this is like that."

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