The Nashville Predators may be one of the best teams in hockey, but the Dallas Stars are not likely intimidated.
Dallas tries to continue its home dominance of the Predators and press on without its injured captain as the teams meet Friday.
Nashville (25-9-3) leads the Central Division and is second in the Western Conference with 53 points. The Predators have won seven of their last eight games, including Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Seven of Nashville's nine regulation losses have come on the road, however, including a 1-0 defeat at Dallas on Nov. 22. That contest improved the Stars to 8-1-1 in the last 10 meetings with the Predators.
"We've had some close games," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We haven't been able to get on the positive side."
Frequently when the teams have met in Dallas, the games have not been close. The Stars have won their last six home meetings with the Predators, and 13 of 15 all-time while outscoring Nashville by a combined 43-17. Five of the Dallas victories have come by three goals or more.
The Stars (24-14-0) have won four of their last six games overall and have the fifth-most points in the West, but are without captain Brenden Morrow indefinitely. Morrow, who has 10 goals and 10 assists in 28 games, tore tendons in his right wrist after it was stepped on by a skate in Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Chicago, and underwent surgery later that night.
Dallas withstood the loss of its captain on Wednesday at Colorado. Jeff Halpern and Jere Lehtinen each had a goal and two assists to help the Stars beat the Avalanche 5-4.
"We're going to have to cope with Brenden's loss as a team," said goalie Marty Turco, who made 28 saves to earn his third win in four starts. "We'll adjust. We can't feel sorry for us."
Turco did not face the Predators in last month's meeting, when backup Mike Smith made 17 saves for the shutout. Turco, though, has enjoyed great success against Nashville in the past, though, going 7-2 with one tie and a 1.80 goals-against average in 10 career starts.
The Predators needed to go to a fourth round of a shootout to defeat St. Louis. Goalie Chris Mason stopped all four shootout attempts he faced before rookie Alexander Radulov scored to lift Nashville. Mason improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season, stopping 10 of 14 total attempts he's faced.
"We have some pretty good shooters on our team and Mason works against them every day," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He is athletic. He is a battler. The goaltender has to be patient. Goaltenders that aren't patient are going to struggle with the shootout."
Paul Kariya scored his 11th goal of the season for Nashville, and added an assist on Scott Hartnell's tally in the third period. The Predators are 10-0-0 when Kariya scores.
Kariya has 15 goals and 40 points in 46 lifetime games against the Stars, but has scored just one goal in his last 14 games against them since the start of the 2002-03 season.