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Resurgent Stars visit fading Predators

by John Manasso /

STARS (19-17-3) at PREDATORS (15-18-8)


Last 10:: Dallas 6-4-0, Nashville 3-5-2

Season series: The Nashville Predators have won both meetings with the Dallas Stars. Most recently, the Predators won 4-0 in Dallas on March 12, as Pekka Rinne made 32 saves to earn the shutout. On Feb. 25, Nashville rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 in overtime at Bridgestone Arena.

Big story: The Stars remain very much in the hunt for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars entered Thursday in 10th place in the Western Conference, two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot behind the Detroit Red Wings with nine games to play. Nashville has lost seven out of eight and essentially fallen out of the race. The Predators are in 13th in the West and five points out with only seven games remaining.

Team Scope:

Stars: No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen had to leave the Stars' 5-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night 14:18 into the first period with a lower body injury. Richard Bachman relieved him and stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Stars improved to 3-1-0 since trading Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy.

"We're having fun now," Bachman told the Dallas Morning News. "A lot of people at the deadline kind of counted us out and said we didn't have a chance, and I think that kind of brought us closer together."

Lehtonen practiced only briefly on Thursday, according to the Morning News, the result of a groin injury. He will travel to Nashville but Bachman could get the start. Since a Feb. 26 start, Bachman had played only 35 minutes until Tuesday's relief appearance.

Predators: The team announced on Thursday that three key forwards would be shut down for the season: both Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad are having season-ending shoulder surgery and will be out for four months. In addition, Gabriel Bourque is having a procedure on his knee.

As a result, the Predators' roster is chock full of players from their American Hockey League farm team in Milwaukee, including two who made their NHL debut this week. Austin Watson made his debut in a 5-3 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and Daniel Bang made his in a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Bang was even in 8:30 of time on ice and had one shot. Watson has averaged 12:57 in his two games and is minus-2 with one shot on goal. Neither player has a point.

Chris Mason could get the start in goal as the Predators look to rest Pekka Rinne, who leads the League with 39 starts. Mason has not played since March 28 but, more to the point, he has not played more than 51 minutes (which came in relief of Rinne) since Feb. 9. He has played only two full games this season.

Who's hot: For Dallas, Vernon Fiddler had two goals and an assist on Tuesday. Ray Whitney had two goals in that same game. Defenseman Trevor Daley had two assists. .. Nashville's David Legwand has three goals and three assists in his past six games. Rinne has allowed only one goal in three of his past five starts but only won one of those.

Injury report: Lehtonen (groin) is day to day. Newcomer Land MacDermid is out for a few more days with a chest bruise. … Bourque, Wilson and Gaustad are out for Nashville, while center Mike Fisher (upper body) and forward Brandon Yip (lower body) missed the game on Tuesday.

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