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FIRST ROUND

Predators set for another shot at Stanley Cup after challenging season

Overcame key injuries to win Central Division, earn first-round matchup against Stars

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have been waiting for another chance to finish the job in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The first step toward redemption will be Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; USA, TVAS, SN1, FS-SW, FS-TN). Nashville (47-29-6) won the Central Division after their Presidents' Trophy-winning season of 2017-18, which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. 

"Sixteen teams thinking that if they get their game on point, they're going to win the Stanley Cup," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Only one will get it done. It was a message and a point that we ended up going seven games with Winnipeg and they had a terrific year and were playing well at the time, and it didn't go our way. So there was some frustration. I think there's some frustration at the end of every year. The only team that's not frustrated is the one who can put their hands on that trophy.

 

[RELATED: Predators vs. Stars first-round preview | Complete Nashville vs. Dallas series coverage]

 

"Every other team is frustrated with what's going on. So the fact that we did stay together for the most part, came back, qualified for the playoffs, won a Central Division and prepared ourselves for the game on Wednesday to get to this point, yeah I think that the guys are ready to go and attack it again."

It was a challenging season for the Predators, who endured injuries to forwards Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Kyle Turris, and defenseman P.K. Subban. They were in a tight race with the Jets and St. Louis Blues before going 5-1-0 in their final six games to clinch the division with 100 points, one ahead of Winnipeg and St. Louis.

"We did a lot of great things this year and went through adversity at times, which all the teams in the League do," center Ryan Johansen said. "And now we're in a spot where we feel like we've taken a stride with our game. Now it's about going out there and executing wins."

The Predators were 3-2-0 against the Stars during the regular season with each loss coming at home. They expect a challenging series and hope it's the beginning of a run to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.

"They've got a deep team, more than they probably get credit for," Johansen said. "They've got a lot of solid players on that team. They've had some good goaltending as of late and obviously a few big stars that we need to have our eye on. It's going to be a lot of fun."

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