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5 Keys: Predators at Stars, Game 6

Dallas hoping to eliminate Nashville, win first playoff series since 2016

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer


8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN1, TVAS2, FS-SW, FS-TN

Stars lead best-of-7 series 3-2

The Dallas Stars will try to eliminate the Nashville Predators from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round at American Airlines Center on Monday.

Dallas could win a playoff series for the first time since 2016, and it would be the first time the Stars have closed a series at home since May 4, 2008, when they defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in four overtimes in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:


[RELATED: Full Predators vs. Stars series coverage]


1.  Stars top line sizzles

Alexander Radulov (two goals), Tyler Seguin (one goal, one assist) and Jamie Benn (three assists) led the offense in Game 5, combining for seven points (three goals, four assists). If they follow with a similar performance in Game 6, the Stars will be heading to the second round.

"They have good chemistry, they complement each other well and a lot of their chances were just great reloads, getting turnovers, going to the net," Stars forward Blake Comeau said. "When you give those guys time and space, they're pretty crafty at making plays. We're going to need another big night from them and we need everyone to follow their lead."


2. Been here, done this

When trailing 3-2 in a best-of-7 series, the Predators have forced Game 7 three times. They won one of those series, eliminating the Anaheim Ducks in the 2016 Western Conference First Round. The Predators are going to need another one of those performances to keep this series alive.

"We're still in it," defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "We've got a good chance. We've got to win two games, and there is a strong belief in our group that we can do it."


3. Defense first

The Stars have found their offense, scoring 10 goals in the past two games. But their defense, which has allowed 11 goals in five games (2.2 goals-against per game) is what got them here. They know they can't deviate from that.

"It's always good to score, but defense wins games in the playoffs," Stars forward Andrew Cogliano said. "That's what we need to do tonight, is play strong defensively. That's how you're going to have to beat a desperate team. You have to play good in your end, be strong without the puck and everyone has to have their good habits to beat a team like this."


4. Cut down the turnovers

The Predators have to handle the puck cleaner than they did in Game 5, when they had 19 giveaways, including 11 in the first period. It led to the Stars getting some choice scoring opportunities and didn't help goaltender Pekka Rinne, who allowed five goals on 26 shots.

"You look at the way the goals have happened, it's really difficult to fault your goaltender when they're big blunders like that," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "It wasn't the quantity, it was the quality of the chances we gave up. That's what we talked about, that's what's controllable and they need to be better."


5. Reading the room

Stars coach Jim Montgomery said he usually gets a good idea of how his team is going to play by how it approaches morning skate. Monday apparently was a good morning.

"Guys were detailed, skating fast, and that's usually a good precursor for us," Montgomery said. "Then we just talked about staying in the moment, playing to our identity. When we're focused on our details we're a hard team to play against."


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Kyle Turris -- Rocco Grimaldi

Brian Boyle -- Nick Bonino -- Austin Watson

Calle Jarnkrok -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Dan Hamhuis -- Dante Fabbro

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

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

Injured: 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

Simmonds, who left Game 2 in the first period after taking a shot to his right knee by Josi, skated Monday. … Janmark, who wore a boot on his left foot after Game 5, skated Monday and remains day-to-day.


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