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Game Day: Preds vs. Stars

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(41-26-14) Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars (49-23-9)
  7 P.M. (CT) | American Airlines Center | #NSHvsDAL
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 7 P.M.


The Nashville Predators conclude their 2015-16 regular-season schedule tonight when they meet the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Predators have already locked in their postseason position; as the first Wild Card seed in the Western Conference, they'll face the winner of the Pacific Division in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning next week.

Nashville has won two in a row, including a come-from-behind, overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The Preds trailed 2-0 entering the third period until Filip Forsberg tied the game with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation, leading to Roman Josi's game winner 20 seconds into OT.

The Stars currently sit tied with St. Louis for the top spot in the Central Division; a win over the Predators would clinch the Central for Dallas. The club beat Colorado 4-2 on Thursday and is 8-2-0 in their last 10, including a 5-2 victory over the Preds on March 29.

The Preds have amassed an 18-15-7 record so far this season on the road (17th in the NHL; 8th in the West), which is good for 43 points in the standings. Nashville ranks 12th on the road on the power play, converting on 23-of-121 opportunities away from Bridgestone Arena (19.0 percent) and are eighth on the penalty kill (83.2 percent). James Neal leads the team in road goals (14), while Josi leads in points (6g-25a-31pts). Josi’s 25 road assists are tied for fourth in the NHL.

Predators Captain Shea Weber has 14 power-play goals so far this season, ranking at the top of the NHL in that category. His 14 power-play tallies are also a career high for the defenseman, and is tied with Andy Delmore and Paul Kariya for the most in franchise history.

Forsberg is currently tied with Jason Arnott for the most goals in a single season in franchise history. Forsberg's 33rd tally of the season tied the game late in regulation on Thursday against Arizona. Neal has 31 goals on the season, two away from tying the mark.

Forsberg's 33 goals and 63 points lead the Predators, while Josi's 61 points are second. Neal is third with 57 points, followed by Weber with 51 and former Dallas Stars center Mike Ribeiro with 50. Craig Smith has tallied 21 goals this season; Weber has also hit the 20-goal mark. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 34-21-10 on the campaign; Carter Hutton is 7-4-4.

Ryan Johansen has an assist in three of his last four games versus the Stars (3a), and Craig Smith has a point in three of his last four games against Dallas (3g-2a).

Stars Captain Jamie Benn has 41 goals and 88 points on the season, ranking near the top of the League in both categories. Jason Spezza has 30 goals and 30 assists; John Klingberg has 57 points from the back end. Kari Lehtonen is 25-10-2 between the pipes, while Antti Niemi is 24-13-7.

Nashville has points in two of their four contests against the Stars so far this season, posting a 1-2-1 record. Smith leads the Predators in goals and points against the Stars (3g-2a), while  Johansen leads the team in assists with three.  
 
All-time, Nashville is 29-35-5 versus Dallas including a 9-23-2 mark at the American Airlines Center.


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The following Predators lines are projected and subject to change. Defensemen Shea Weber, Roman Josi, forwards Mike Fisher, Mike Ribeiro and goaltender Pekka Rinne will sit out tonight's regular season finale.

Update: Goaltender Marek Mazanec and blueliner Corey Potter have been recalled from Milwaukee (AHL).


Forwards
Colin Wilson Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Calle Jarnkrok Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom Colton Sissons Viktor Arvidsson
Austin Watson Paul Gaustad Cody Bass
Defense
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis
Anthony Bitetto Petter Granberg
Barret Jackman Corey Potter

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Goaltenders: The Predators have not announced a starting goaltender for tonight's game. Carter Hutton is the projected starter in net with Marek Mazanec serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Shea Weber, (D) Roman Josi, (F) Mike Fisher, (F) Mike Ribeiro, (G) Pekka Rinne, (F) Gabriel Bourque (upper-body), (F) Miikka Salomaki (day-to-day)


Dallas Stars:

Forwards
Jamie Benn Cody Eakin Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin Jason Spezza Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel Radek Faksa Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen Vernon Fiddler Patrick Eaves
Defense
Kris Russell Alex Goligoski
Stephen Johns Johnny Oduya
Jason Demers John Klingberg

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Goaltenders: Antti Niemi is the projected starter in net with Kari Lehtonen serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Jordie Benn, (D) Jamie Oleksiak, (D) Patrik Nemeth, (F) Tyler Seguin (IR)

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