Nichushkin scores on 21st birthday, Stars beat Devils 4-2
DALLAS (AP) Vernon Fiddler played in his 800th game and scored his 100th goal - all in one week.
Quite a fun stretch for the veteran forward.
Fiddler had a short-handed goal into an empty net with 20 seconds left, and the Dallas Stars stopped a four-game slide with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist for Dallas on his 21st birthday. Jason Spezza and Colton Sceviour also scored, and Kari Lehtonen made 18 saves.
The 35-year-old Fiddler has scored in three straight games. He has 10 goals and 10 assists this season.
''I would have never thought I would have had one NHL game,'' the undrafted Fiddler said, ''and I got a chance to play my 800th. I can at least tell my kids that your dad scored 100 goals in the NHL.
''It was a selfless play by Colton Sceviour. He could have probably taken it and shot it, but he was nice enough to pass it over.''
Fiddler's milestone goal came 12 seconds after Johnny Oduya went off for hooking. With goalie Keith Kinkaid pulled, New Jersey had a good chance to score with six skaters to Dallas' four.
''We were just light on the puck,'' Devils coach John Hynes said. ''May have been the difference of getting a point out of the game or two points out of the game right there.''
With 16 games left in the season, Dallas, Chicago and St. Louis are locked up in a tough race for the Central Division title. The Stars (39-20-7) and Blackhawks (40-21-5) each have 85 points, followed by the Blues (37-20-9) with 83.
''The best present (was) the win tonight,'' the Russian-born Nichushkin said.
New Jersey has lost seven of nine. Adam Henrique and Devante Smith-Pelly scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider had 15 saves before leaving at 2:05 of the third due to an injury. Kinkaid made six saves.
New Jersey remained tied for ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five points away from the second wild card.
Hynes said he didn't have much of an update on Schneider.
''We'll have to see what the evaluation is on him and see where he is in a couple days,'' he said.
Nichushkin scored at 8:01 of the first period. He took a pass from Mattias Janmark in the neutral zone, skated down the right side, crossed in front of Schneider and slid the puck into the lower left corner of the net.
The Devils nearly had a tying goal with 2 seconds left in the first. The puck came to Henrique in front. He tried a backhand, but Lehtonen trapped the puck between his left arm and his side.
The teams exchanged goals in a 71-second stretch of the second.
Henrique tied it at 1 with his 23rd goal at 5:14. Lehtonen was out of position with a scramble near the goal, and Henrique flipped a backhand into the upper right corner.
At 6:25, Spezza redirected Janmark's pass from the left corner past Schneider.
NOTES: Dallas D John Klingberg left in the first period because of a lower-body injury. Ruff said Klingberg could be out ''just a little bit of time.'' ... Stars LW Patrick Sharp (lower body) went on the injured list. To replace him, Dallas recalled Brett Ritchie from Texas of the AHL. Ritchie fought with New Jersey's Adam Larsson in the second period. ... Henrique has four goals in the last three games, including goals that tied and won (in overtime) Thursday's game at Nashville. ... Spezza has 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 34 career games against the Devils. ... Rookie Janmark had not had more than one assist in any of his first 65 games.