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At the Rink: Predators at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- With the Dallas Stars power play 0-for-14 over the past three games, coach Lindy Ruff tweaked his top unit by putting Antoine Roussel in to generate more presence in front of the opposing net on Thursday against the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center.

"Well, we're looking for more net front, somebody around. We got to get somebody inside," Ruff said after the morning skate. "We need somebody that's willing to really take one for the team; stay in there, hunker down. We've got some good shooters. We need a guy that can take the goalie's eyes away. If he can't see it, he can't control rebounds."

It's a new role which Roussel, who is tied for third on Dallas with four goals, is embracing.

"I am just trying to help the team and be in front of the net. I've been in front of most of the net 5-on-5, so maybe it will be easier to get to the net on the power play," Roussel said. "I am going to try to help out the boys and do my best."

Ruff is keeping his line combinations and defense pairings exactly the same from a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice for Dallas and will start his fifth straight game.

Dallas is currently on a five-game winless streak (0-3-2).

Nashville, which is playing its third game of a four-game road trip, lost 3-1 at the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, but the Predators are 3-2-1 on the road.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette is tweaking his third and fourth lines, bringing center Calle Jarnkrok, a healthy scratch in the past four games, to center his third line alongside Colin Wilson on the left and Olli Jokinen on the right.

"Calle's a good player. I think he's a really smart player. There's some players that think the game and are always in position. The coach draws something on the board and there's some players that go out and execute their spot to a tee. He's one of those players for me," Laviolette said.

Laviolette is also going with a fourth line of left wing Taylor Beck, center Paul Gaustad and right wing Eric Nystrom, an ex-Star who will be appearing in his 500th career game.

Defenseman Shea Weber will continue to be on the Predators second power-play unit.

"There's not a second power-play unit. There's two power-play units and again, we're trying to look at it and open up shots," Laviolette said. "There's a good chance that Shea's group is going to start tonight. Sometimes it's based on the shift before and who's tired, who's going, who's not going. There's a lot of things that factor into it, but really there is no one and there is no two."

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was first off the ice for Nashville and will start his 11th game of the season.

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip ForsbergMike RibeiroJames Neal

Matt CullenDerek RoyCraig Smith

Colin WilsonCalle JarnkrokOlli Jokinen

Taylor BeckPaul GaustadEric Nystrom

Roman JosiShea Weber

Ryan EllisMattias Ekholm

Victor BartleySeth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Gabriel Bourque

Injured: Mike Fisher (Achilles)

Suspended: Anton Volchenkov


Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie BennBrenden Dillon

Jamie Oleksiak - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Patrick Eaves

Injured: Patrik Nemeth (right arm laceration)

Status report: With Jarnkrok drawing back into the lineup, Bourque will be a healthy scratch for the third time this season and first time since Oct. 25 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Who's hot: Neal leads the Predators in goals (seven) and shots (40). … Gaustad leads Nashville and is ranked top-five in the NHL in faceoff percentage (58.3 percent). … Sceviour has points in three of his four career games in Nashville.

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