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5 Keys: Predators at Stars, Game 4

Nashville hoping for more road success; Dallas counting on Bishop to rebound

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer


8 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVAS2, FS-SW, FS-TN

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 2-1


[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]


The Nashville Predators can take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars in Game 4 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

Teams that go ahead 3-1 in a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series are 276-28 all time (90.7 percent), but Predators forward Austin Watson isn't taking anything for granted.

"We expect their best," Watson said. "Obviously they had a really good effort in Game 3 as well. We expect a push from them. Every game we expect to see their best and a little bit better than the game before. We'll be ready."

Here are 5 keys for Game 4:


1. Enjoying the road

The Predators have fared well away from Bridgestone Arena in the playoffs, going 10-8 on the road since the start of the 2017 postseason. They're also 3-0 with two regular-season wins in Dallas.

"I think everybody's experienced enough that, on the road, it doesn't matter how loud the rink is," goalie Pekka Rinne said. "Actually, you can use it to your advantage, too. When it's a great atmosphere, it doesn't matter who they're cheering for. You're focusing on your own team, finding strength inside this locker room. You've got to expect [the Stars] to come hard and you've got to match that."


2. Spezza's impact

Jason Spezza helped the Stars improve on face-offs in Game 3 after he was a healthy scratch the first two games. Dallas won 57 percent of its face-offs (36 of 63), up from 38 percent (20 of 53) in Game 1 and 41 percent (29 of 71) in Game 2.

The center was 337-for-470 (58.2 percent) in the face-off circle during the regular season.

"Our face-off intensity was good," coach Jim Montgomery said. "Our centers were better, but the guys on the sides, whether [defensive] zone, neutral or offensive zone, our intensity picked up. So we did a much better job."


3. Critical kills

The Stars (8-for-8) and Predators (12-for-13) are the top two penalty-killing teams so far in the playoffs. Nashville was especially effective in Game 3, killing off 89 seconds of a 5-on-3 Dallas had in the first period.

So which power play will be the first to put a significant dent in the opposing team's kill? Montgomery said the staff and players talked Tuesday about taking more advantage while skating either 5-on-4 or 5-on-3.

"We're trying to figure out how we can generate more momentum, not so much generating goals," Montgomery said. "That 5-on-3, there was no momentum. We weren't converging on the net, our spacing, our puck movement wasn't good enough. I's a big part of how our staff works with our players: We want them to take ownership with what's going to happen on the ice, with input and ideas from us."


4. Bishop bounce back

The Stars need goalie Ben Bishop to revert to form in Game 4 after he allowed three goals on 28 shots in the loss Monday. It was the first time Bishop gave up at least three goals in a game since Feb. 4, a 5-4 win against the Arizona Coyotes.

"We've got the most confidence in [Bishop]," forward Jamie Benn said Tuesday. "We obviously wouldn't be here without him. He's been one of the best goalies in the League, especially down the stretch. Sure, he'd want some of those shots back, but there's nothing we can do about it now. We're going to move forward and look forward to Game 4."


5. Getting Forsberg going

Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was quiet in the first two games of the series before scoring his first postseason goal in Game 3. 

The Predators are looking for more offense, especially from their top line of Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. Forsberg's goal is the only point among the three forwards in three games.


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith

Colton Sissons -- Nick Bonino -- Austin Watson

Miikka Salomaki -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Rocco Grimaldi

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Dan Hamhuis -- Dante Fabbro

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Rem Pitlick, Zac Rinaldo, Cody McLeod, Frederick Gaudreau, Niclas Westerholm 

Injured: Brian Boyle (illness), Wayne Simmonds (lower body)


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: Julius Honka, Taylor Fedun, Valeri Nichushkin, Landon Bow

Injured: Stephen Johns (upper body), Marc Methot (lower body), Martin Hanzal (back), Brett Ritchie (hand), Mattias Janmark (lower body)


Status report

Zuccarello didn't participate in the morning skate, which he also missed before playing Game 3. … Janmark will miss his second straight game and remains day to day. … Pitlick returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 3.

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