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At the Rink blog

Stars look to continue playoff push against Nashville

Friday, 03.28.2014 / 1:21 PM

By Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Stars look to continue playoff push against Nashville

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games at American Airlines Center and would like to continue that trend Friday against the Nashville Predators.

Dallas (34-27-11, 79 points) is five points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the Western Conference's final wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, although the Stars have two games in hand.

They will be minus left wing Erik Cole, who will miss a fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. Left wing Ray Whitney, who missed practice Thursday with an illness, will be a game-time decision.

"We're going to dress an extra guy," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate. "[Whitney playing is] depending on if he gets a good meal in him and feels well tonight; energy level's a big deal. He wasn't feeling well yesterday and was sick, but is feeling a lot better today."

If Whitney does play, he will man the left side of Dallas' fourth line alongside center Dustin Jeffrey and left wing Alex Chiasson.

Besides Whitney being a game-time decision, it appears Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairings unchanged from a 4-2 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start a fourth straight game for Dallas.

Nashville (32-31-11, 75 points) is on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.

Goalie Carter Hutton was in net against the Sabres, meaning Predators coach Barry Trotz could go with Pekka Rinne on Friday in Dallas.

No matter who Nashville starts in goal, Ruff wants to see his team do several things early against a team that could have tired legs.

"I'd like to see us score. I'd like to see us play well," Ruff said. "Nashville's a pretty good team at taking time and space away, so you're going to have to make quick plays. We're going to have to beat their guys off the wall on the offensive zone, get back to the net in a hurry."

Here are the projected lineups for the Predators and Stars:

PREDATORS

Matt CullenMike FisherPatric Hornqvist

Eric NystromColin WilsonNick Spaling

Gabriel BourqueCalle JarnkrokCraig Smith

Rich CluneColton SissonsViktor Stalberg

Roman JosiShea Weber

Michael Del ZottoVictor Bartley

Mattias EkholmRyan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Paul Gaustad (upper body), Seth Jones (concussion).

STARS

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Ray WhitneyDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie BennBrenden Dillon

Aaron Rome - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Chris Mueller

Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat).

Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie