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Fading Stars try to snap Predators' six-game run

by Mike G. Morreale
STARS (31-27-14) at PREDATORS (42-26-5)

Last 10 -- Dallas 3-5-2; Nashville 7-3-0

Season series --
The Predators and Stars are meeting for the fourth time this season. The Predators hold a 2-1 lead in the season series following a 4-2 victory in the most recent meeting on Oct. 31.

Big Story -- The Predators will be playing their 13th of 17 games during March -- tying them with the Atlanta Thrashers for the most this month. The club is 9-3-0 so far and has moved into fifth in the Western Conference with 89 points -- seven points behind the San Jose Sharks.

Team Scope:

Stars -- The Stars' slim playoff hopes took a hit on Sunday after a 3-2 shootout loss to the surging Phoenix Coyotes. Brad Richards, who scored twice in a 5-4 triumph over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, connected in the first round of the shootout, but the next three shooters failed to convert against Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera. The Stars have 76 points with 10 games remaining and are in danger of not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season -- something that hasn't happened since 1987 and '88 when the franchise was in Minnesota.

Predators --
The Preds won their sixth straight on Sunday following a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Dustin Boyd scored his second goal of the game 48 seconds after teammate Patric Hornqvist had tied it to give Nashville the victory. Nashville improved to an impressive 37-17-3 in games decided by two goals or less -- tops in the NHL in wins in that situation. Nashville has outscored the opposition, 9-2, in its last three triumphs.

Who's Hot --
Richards has 4 goals and 14 points in his last 11 games for Dallas, including a five-game points streak. … Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne posted a 4-0-0 mark last week with a 1.21 goals-against average, two shutouts and .958 save percentage. He earned First Star honors from the League.

Injury Report --
Nashville forward Jason Arnott (cut over left eye) is questionable and defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (lower-body) is out. … The Stars will be without veteran center Mike Modano, who underwent emergency appendectomy on March 15.

Stat Pack -- Nashville has won 42 games this season, marking the fifth season in a row the club has won at least 40 games. San Jose and New Jersey are the only two other teams to have equaled that feat.

Puck Drop --
"(Rinne's) been really sharp," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He's moving, his hands have been good, he's been seeing the puck, and obviously playing very well for us. If he wasn't playing well I don't think we'd win a couple of these (recent) games. Goaltending obviously can make a big difference."

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