Neal off to solid start

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

James Neal took an impressive first step in combating the sophomore slump Saturday in Dallas's season opener. The second-year forward scored both goals in a shootout loss to Nashville.

"Everyone always talks about the sophomore slump going into your second year," Neal said. "But you just have to have a good summer and be prepared for the year. I thought I had a good rookie season, but that's behind me now and I have to keep doing the things that I did to get here and keep things simple and play hard."

Neal, 22, had 24 goals and 13 assists in 77 games last season with the Stars.

"It's always a bit of a surprise when a young guy comes into the league, because not a lot is known about him," Neal said. "In your second year, you're going to be paid more attention to. But all good players are looked at in that light and you have to fight through that, because that's what good players do."

Modano couldn't go

Mike Modano has made a living feasting on the Oilers. The Dallas centre had 75 points in 65 career games against the Oilers.

Last night, however Modano was forced to sit out after injuring a rib in the Stars' opener against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

"They found a little crack in it (Monday) night, late after we got in here," Modano said yesterday. "It's tender and there is not much movement that I can do anymore."

Modano tried to take the morning skate yesterday, but lasted only a couple minutes.

"It started feeling pretty good for a while, but then once I got on the ice it didn't feel too good, so it's going to be a time thing now," said Modano, who is expected to be out for at least a week.

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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