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Game Day: Stars vs. Preds

Nashville Will Look to Limit Chances for Skilled Stars

by Brooks Bratten & Thomas Willis @PredsNHL /

After splitting their weekend series with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators return home to host the Dallas Stars in another Central Division contest at Bridgestone Arena.

The Preds were victorious on Opening Night in Smashville, winning 3-2 over the Hawks on Friday, before dropping a 5-3 decision on Saturday back in Chicago.

So what did the club learn about themselves in the first two outings of the season? For one, keeping their feet moving is going to prove favorable more often than not.

Video: The Preds web team previews Preds and Stars

"I think we're going to be really effective when we play with speed and just not try to look for a pretty play," forward Craig Smith said. "If we just keep it going forward, we got some really good looks off that. I thought our defensemen jumped into the play well, especially off the breakout, they were a key factor of jumping into offense and creating little bit for us."

Smith and his teammates will continue to test out those options tonight against the Stars, another team that has plenty of firepower up front. Here are three things to watch for tonight.

Stepping Up:

The Preds lost two players to injury over the weekend, and the prognosis on Monday doesn't put them back in the lineup in the near future.

Defenseman Anthony Bitetto, who left Friday's game after getting injured in a scrap, will miss 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. Forward Miikka Salomaki was injured Saturday after blocking a shot, and his upper-body injury will keep him out of the lineup for 6-8 weeks.

Defenseman Yannick Weber, who was scratched for the home opener, was in the lineup on Saturday alongside Matt Carle in place of Bitetto. As far as Salomaki's spot on the fourth line, Cody Bass filled that vacancy on Monday at practice.

Video: Pekka Rinne and Cody Bass talk about facing Dallas

Under Pressure:

When it comes to the Dallas Stars, players like Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin can make their opponents pay with too much time and space. For the Preds, that means some added attention should be paid to those who can put the puck in the net.

"Pressure - we've just got to pressure them," Smith said. "They have some guys that can make some magic happen with the puck. I think if we can really tighten up and not give them those zone times to make a play, we'll be better off. We have to really limit their chances."

Structurally Sound:

One could argue that through 120 minutes of hockey against the Blackhawks on Friday and Saturday, the Predators outplayed their opponent more often than not. When that wasn't the case, however, is when Nashville got into trouble, including their start on Saturday when they surrendered three goals through the first 10 minutes of the game. According to Head Coach Peter Laviolette, those details will continue to be emphasized against a skilled team like Dallas tonight.

"Just cleaning up our game a little bit, making sure our structure stays in place; sometimes you just get out here, and you're playing the game and you forget about the structure that you need against good offensive teams," Laviolette said. "Dallas presents a lot of challenges for us, but we'll have to just work to maintain that structure and do our best to keep them controlled."

Video: Peter Laviolette talks tonight's matchup with Dallas

Projected Lineups: 

Predators Projected Lineup

Note: The Preds held an optional morning skate. The lines are based on recent practice rushes.

Filip Forsberg Ryan Johansen Kevin Fiala
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher James Neal
Viktor Arvidsson Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Cody Bass Colton Sissons Calle Jarnkrok
Roman Josi P.K. Subban  
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis  
Yannick Weber Matt Carle  
Pekka Rinne Marek Mazanec  
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn Tyler Seguin Patrick Eaves
Patrick Sharp Devin Shore Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel Radek Faksa Jason Spezza
Cutis McKenzie Adam Cracknell Lauri Korpikoski
Dan Hamhuis John Klingberg  
Johnny Oduya Stephen Johns  
Esa Lindell Jamie Oleksiak  
Kari Lehtonen Antti Niemi  

Take It In:

Tonight's 7 p.m. (CT) start can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee. The Predators Live! pregame show presented by Nissan gets underway at 6:30, with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley covering all the action. The game can also be heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network with Pete Weber and Brent Peterson.

When You Go:

This evening marks the first Guaranteed Win Night of the season. Every Tuesday in 2016-17, each fan attending a game at Bridgestone Arena will receive a scratch-off ticket revealing a prize, with one grand prize mixed in. Tonight's big winner will receive two VIP tickets to the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards. It's also the first Team Smashville night, with Vanderbilt University as the featured school.

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