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First Round

Predators seek more from third line against Stars in Game 2

Sissons, Bonino, Watson must excel in shutdown role to help tie series

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators will look for a bounce-back performance from their third line of Colton Sissons, Nick Bonino and Austin Watson when they host the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (6 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVAS2, FS-TN, FS, SW).

That line was on the ice for two goals against and spent most of its time in the defensive zone during a 3-2 loss Wednesday that gave the Stars the lead in the best-of-7 series.

They were matched up against the Stars' first line of Jason Dickinson, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov at some points, and Dallas' second line of Jamie Benn, Roope Hintz and Mats Zuccarello at others.


[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Stars series coverage]


"Obviously, it wasn't our finest effort," Sissons said. "We gave up some looks and got scored against. We're usually the line that doesn't see a lot of goals go in our net, so not something we're happy about. I know [Bonino and Watson] and myself, we'll definitely rebound and have one of our best games on Saturday."

The Predators rely on Sissons, Bonino and Watson to play responsibly on defense, but they have proven they can contribute offensively. Their line was put together on a consistent basis in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, when they combined for 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

They will look to spend more time in the offensive zone in Game 2.

"We pride ourselves on being good defensively," Watson said, "but part of that is being able to play in the offensive zone and create scoring chances for ourselves and score goals. We'll be looking to get back to playing in the other team's end and hopefully not defending so much."

Video: Stars win 3-2 as Predators' power play struggles

The Predators appeared to have the same lineup in practice Friday as they had in Game 1 and feel they can learn from some of the lapses they had in the second and third periods of the opener.

"It is a seven-game series," Watson said. "You don't expect to win every game. Obviously, we're disappointed with the way that we finished the game. We liked our start. We didn't like the last two periods. At the end of the day, we're down 1-0 in the series.

"You talk about the most important game of the year, well, in the playoffs that's every single game. We're on to Game 2. We'll take what we can from Game 1. We're a confident bunch in here that we can learn from it and go on to get the next one."

Nashville wants to get back to an aggressive style of play and carry it forward for an entire game.

"I think you guys know when we're on the attack and on our toes, we're playing good hockey," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "We just lost a little bit of focus through the course of the game, that's all. So it's not like we have to reinvent the wheel here."

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