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Predators meet Stars for first time this season

by Davis Harper /

PREDATORS (18-12-4) at STARS (19-13-1)


LAST 10: Nashville 7-3-0; Dallas 6-4-0

Season Series: This is the first of four meetings -- the teams will play again on Jan. 5 They split the series last season, but Nashville won the final meeting, 4-2 on March 26 behind two goals from David Legwand.

Big Story: It's a matchup of two teams on pace for a playoff berth come April, but just barely. Separated by just a point, Nashville (40) and Dallas (39) are seventh and eighth in the West, respectively. Both will be looking for a win to take into the Christmas break.

Team Scope:

Predators: In perhaps the most probable improbable comeback of the year, Nashville erased a three-goal deficit Thursday night and beat Columbus 6-5. Martin Erat scored the game-winner with 8.4 seconds left after David Legwand tied it with 3:46 to play. The comeback came after the Predators were torched for five goals before the second period was eight minutes old, including four on the power play -- by a Columbus team that came in ranked 26th in goals scored.

"I would say that we played great the first ten or 12 minutes and after that we took bad penalties," Erat said. "In the second period, we started playing a sloppy game. After we got a little offensive pressure in their zone, and that's when they made the turnovers and we capitalized on them."

Stars: When Dallas shows up on HBO's 24/7 "Road to the Winter Classic," the highlights from Wednesday's Flyers-Stars game will be notable for two reasons. The first was Claude Giroux's return from a concussion -- he scored the Flyers' first goal assisted on each of the following three. The other is the Stars' inability to stay out of the penalty box. Two Stars picked up 10-minute misconducts and Dallas allowed two power-play goals in five tries in an eventual 4-1 defeat.

"I thought they capitalized on their power plays and we didn't capitalize on ours," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "At 5-on-5, I thought the play was pretty even, just the specialty teams came into play and they beat us at that game for sure."

Who's Hot: Nashville's Shea Weber had three assists Thursday, to give him seven during his four-game points streak. … Michael Ryder has a goal in each of the Stars' past three games.

Injury Report: Nashville's Kevin Klein missed Thursday's game against Columbus with flu-like symptoms. … Dallas defensemen Stephane Robidas (foot) and Philip Larsen (charley horse) are questionable for Friday's game. Tomas Vincour (knee) and Kari Lehtonen (groin) are on IR.

Stat Pack: The penalty-prone Stars could run into trouble with Nashville, which boasts the League's second-best power play (21.7 percent).

Puck Drop: Despite his team's poor start, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he was optimistic his team could come back, especially since the Jackets hadn't had to work hard for their goals.

"I've seen this so many times in the past where something comes too easy for a team, all of a sudden they've got a big lead," he said. "All you have to do is chip away because there was a ton of time left. We did that."

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