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5 Keys: Stars at Predators, Game 5

Nashville's top line must score; Zuccarello, Klingberg fueling offense for Dallas

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

STARS at PREDATORS

3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators can move within one win of advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by winning Game 5 in the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]

 

When a best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has a series record of 205-55 (.788 winning percentage).

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 

1. Predators top line must get going

Nashville's first line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson hasn't generated enough offense. They've combined for two points (a goal by Forsberg and an assist by Johansen) in four games.

The Dallas line of Andrew Cogliano, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau has been able to shut down Nashville's top line.

"I think the first two games we were generating a decent amount of chances, playing hard defensively," Forsberg said. "It's a 200-foot game in the playoffs, we tried to take care of everything. The last two games, I think we've been kind of like the team, a little slower."

 

2. 'Another level' for Zuccarello?

Mats Zuccarello has been outstanding for the Stars, with three goals in four games. But Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said the forward "has another level in him."

"It's the first time he's played four games in a row in two months," Montgomery said of Zuccarello, who broke his right arm blocking a shot in a 4-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 24, the day after the Stars acquired him in a trade with the New York Rangers.

"Let him get in a rhythm, get his hockey legs and all that," Montgomery said. "We're talking about a guy who's done nothing for two months and he's already producing like this."

 

3. Predators paying price for penalties

The Predators have taken 22 penalties, fifth-most among the 16 teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and have been shorthanded 19 times (tied for fourth). Their penalty kill was strong through the first three games (1-for-13) but allowed those three power-play goals in the first period of Game 4.

"Some of it is discipline, some of it is probably execution, execution not to shoot it out of the rink or execution to be in control of your stick," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "Regardless, when you add it all up, it's way too much. They pounced on it in the first period [of Game 4], and before some people got to their seats it was 2-0."

 

4. Klingberg factor

Defenseman John Klingberg leads the Stars with five points, all assists, in four games. Two of those assists came on power-play goals in Game 4.

"We talked about how he's our quarterback, especially on the PP," said Esa Lindell, Klingberg's partner. "It's good that the big boy's getting points and confidence from that. That just keeps building and they make the difference in games."

 

5. Just 'play a game'

The Predators were disappointed in their performance after Game 4, but they're staying loose and are confident coming back home for Game 5.

"Enough of the X's and O's, looking at stats, power play, special teams and all that," Nashville forward Craig Smith said. "We have to go out and play a game."

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Tyler Seguin -- Alexander Radulov

Jason Dickinson -- Roope Hintz -- Mats Zuccarello

Andrew Cogliano -- Radek Faksa -- Blake Comeau

Justin Dowling -- Jason Spezza -- Tyler Pitlick

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen -- Roman Polak

Jamie Oleksiak -- Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Taylor Fedun, Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin, Mattias Janmark, Joel Hanley, Landon Bow, Julius Honka

Injured: Stephen Johns (upper body), Marc Methot (lower body), Martin Hanzal (back)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Colton Sissons -- Calle Jarnkrok

Austin Watson -- Nick Bonino -- Craig Smith

Brian Boyle -- Kyle Turris -- Rocco Grimaldi

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Dan Hamhuis -- Dante Fabbro

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Miikka Salomaki, Rem Pitlick, Zac Rinaldo, Cody McLeod, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Frederick Gaudreau

Injured: Wayne Simmonds (lower body)

 

Status report

Janmark skated on a line with Nichushkin and Ritchie as extra forwards at practice Friday. … Grimaldi did not practice Friday; Laviolette said he is day to day with an undisclosed injury. Simmonds did practice, but his availability for Game 5 was not disclosed. ... Salomaki and Gaudreau took rushes with Boyle and Turris on the fourth line.

NHL.com correspondent Robby Stanley contributed to this report

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