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Preds need offense to snap skid against Stars

by Brian Hunter /
STARS (21-11-4) at PREDATORS (17-12-6)


Last 10:
Dallas 5-3-2; Nashville 5-4-1

Season series: Second of four meetings this season. Cal O'Reilly scored 42 seconds after the opening faceoff in Dallas on Oct. 23 and Pekka Rinne made it hold up, stopping 30 shots and outdueling Kari Lehtonen in a 1-0 victory for Nashville.

Big story: The Stars still lead the Pacific Division, but they've dropped their last two games and start play Tuesday one point behind the Canucks and two in back of the Red Wings for the top seed in the Western Conference. They'll try to rebound against the streaky Predators, who have dropped four in a row after tying the franchise record by picking up at least a point in 10 straight games.

Team Scope:

Stars: This is the only time Dallas will play on the road in a six-game stretch to end the calendar year. The Stars enter with a three-game winning streak away from American Airlines Center, where they concluded a recent homestand with a shootout loss to the Flames and a 1-0 defeat Sunday at the hands of the Coyotes. Lehtonen made 24 saves but gave up a second-period goal to Kyle Turris that ended up the only marker on the night thanks to Jason LaBarbera and his 30 saves.

"He played extremely well," Lehtonen, who was named the game's second star, said of LaBarbera, who was first. "I think the big key for him was he didn't give up many rebounds. We tried to shoot and shoot and he didn’t give up any second chances."

Predators: The good news is Nashville has two healthy and productive goaltenders again, as Rinne has returned following arthroscopic knee surgery. Unfortunately, the Predators haven't given him much in the way of offensive support he got back in the crease. They scored a single goal in each of their first three losses during this current streak, then got blanked 2-0 by the Blues and Jaroslav Halak on Sunday.

"It seems like we're a streaky team," defenseman Shane O'Brien told the Tennessean. "When we're going good, we're going good and when we lose one, we lose two and now we're on a bit of a skid again. The thing about being a good hockey team is consistency. We had some good consistency going there for a couple of weeks, and now, here we go again."

Who's hot: Both teams were shut out in their most recent games, but the goalies are playing sound. Lehtonen has allowed two goals or less in each of his last four starts for the Stars, while Rinne has given up three total goals in two starts since returning to the Predators.

Injury report: Dallas forward Tom Wandell and defenseman Nicklas Grossman are under the weather and listed as day-to-day. ... Nashville forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and David Legwand (lower body) are on injured reserve, while forwards Martin Erat (upper body) and Steve Sullivan (lower body) are day-to-day.

Stat pack: Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas led the team with 25:42 of ice time and seven blocked shots against the Coyotes. ... The Predators are sixth in the NHL in team goals-against average at 2.43 and 10th in penalty-killing at 84 percent.

Puck drop: Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo, a sparkplug throughout his career, will be out indefinitely as he undergoes treatment in the NHL/NHL Players Association Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, the League announced Monday. Tootoo has 10 points and a team-leading 47 penalty minutes in 32 games this season.

"We offer Jordin the full support of his teammates, coaches and the organization," GM David Poile said in a statement. "There is no timetable for his return and we will have no further comment at this time."

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