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Predators look to avenge previous loss against Stars

by Brian Hunter
STARS (21-16-1) at PREDATORS (21-14-4)


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

Season Series:
Second of four meetings. A three-goal first period led the Stars to a 6-3 win over the Predators on Dec. 23 in Dallas, as six different players scored and Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was chased in the first period. Michael Ryder assisted on a pair of goals and capped the scoring with an empty-netter for a 3-point night.

Big Story:
Concussions have altered the landscape for a number of NHL teams this season, including the Predators, who have played their last four games without captain Shea Weber. He suffered his concussion the last time these teams met. Weber was back on the ice Tuesday, though, skating at practice with limited contact. His status for this game is up in the air, but even if he isn't ready to return it appears he's headed in the right direction.

"There is still no time line on him," coach Barry Trotz said in the Tennessean. "It's when he feels comfortable; when he feels that he's ready to go, then he'll come and let us know. Between the doctors, the trainers and Shea, they'll make that decision."

Team Scope:

Tuesday night's game at American Airlines Center had a little bit of everything … except a Dallas win. Stars defenseman Jordie Benn made his NHL debut, joining brother Jamie Benn in the lineup. The two combined to assist on a first-period goal by Loui Eriksson, and Jamie scored early in the second en route to a 3-point night. Ryder tallied twice, but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome a big offensive effort by the Red Wings, who dealt the Stars a 5-4 defeat.

"A bit of a tough game there," Jamie Benn said. "When you have breakdowns in the D zone and they capitalize, it's never good, but I thought we had some parts of our game that were good, and some that were not good."

Consecutive shootout wins and a two-goal victory over Calgary on New Year's Day sent Nashville into a three-day break with plenty to feel good about, which now includes the possible return of Weber. Even without him, the Predators weren't hurting for offensive punch in a 5-3 win over the Flames, punctuated by a hat trick from Sergei Kostitsyn, who nearly doubled his goal output for the entire season.

"Coach told me that every game and practice -- to shoot the puck more," Kostitsyn said in the Tennessean. "Maybe I tried to shoot more today. I just have to do it more every game."

Who's Hot:
Ryder is red-hot for the Stars, with 8 goals in as many games. Jamie Benn has 3 goals and 10 assists in his last nine games, while Eriksson has 4 goals and 7 assists over the same span. … In addition to Kostitsyn coming off a hat trick, Matt Halischuk has scored in consecutive games for the Predators.

Injury Report:
Dallas defenseman Philip Larsen missed Tuesday's game with concussion-like symptoms. Defensemen Stephane Robidas (foot) and Sheldon Souray (ankle) and forward Tomas Vincour (knee) are on injured reserve. … Nashville forward Colin Wilson, who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, also skated Tuesday and like Weber is a possibility to play Thursday.

Stat Pack:
The Stars went 34-23 on faceoffs against the Red Wings, with Vernon Fiddler going 10-2 and Jamie Benn 14-8 on draws. … Jordin Tootoo assisted on a pair of Predators goals Sunday and has already tied his career high in points with 18 this season.

Puck Drop: "That was a blast, a dream come true," Jordie Benn said after Tuesday's game. "Obviously, you want to win, but I got to play in the NHL with my brother, so that was awesome. You don't really think about (adding offense) going into the game, you just want to keep it simple because it's your first game, but it's always good to contribute. It was awesome."
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