Hockey is back - and so are the Preds.
For the first time in more than four months, the Nashville Predators will face off against an opponent, and that meeting comes this afternoon (3 p.m. CT) against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place in Edmonton in a game presented by Fifth Third Bank. The matchup is the first and only exhibition contest for the Preds in Phase 4 of the NHL's Return To Play Plan prior to their Stanley Cup Qualifying Round matchup against Arizona, which begins on Sunday.
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After two weeks of Training Camp Presented by Vanderbilt Health and three more days of practice in Alberta, the Preds are more than ready to compete against another club, and that chance finally comes today.
"I'm excited that we have an opportunity to play Dallas, because they're a good team," Predators Head Coach John Hynes said. "They're well coached, they have a lot of good players and it's going to be a good test for us. We want to be able to get to our game and do some things, but part of the exhibition game too is [we get a chance to see if] there is anything that you need to touch up on or get exposed in that you have time to be able to make some slight adjustments prior to going into Game 1."
Video: Preds return to the ice for game against Stars
The Predators are permitted to dress 13 forwards and seven defensemen today - one more of each than is typically permitted. Hynes said his club will do that this afternoon, as well as finalize a plan on how to use goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros in the game.
"We're going to try to utilize the whole lineup, and then we'll try to play our players very similar to the way that we would in a regular game," Hynes said. "In a game, [Roman] Josi might get 26 or 27 minutes, but I think [today] we wouldn't go that high. But we'll play the guys in their regular roles and make sure everyone gets a really good taste of it, gets what they need to get out of there personally and what we need to get out of it as a team."
Video: Coach Hynes previews first game in four months
Last Time Out:
It was March 10 in Montreal when the Predators last took to the ice against an opponent, a 4-2 win for the Preds over the Canadiens. Filip Forsberg posted two goals and an assist, while Ryan Johansen and Calle Jarnkrok also scored on the night. All four of Nashville's goals came in the second period, and it was their third-straight victory before the pause.
Goaltender Juuse Saros made 32 saves on the night that saw his shutout streak end at 181:06. Saros now owns the second-longest shutout streak in franchise history thanks to a pair of zeros posted over the Dallas Stars in the two prior contests.
Preds Captain - and Norris Trophy finalist - Roman Josi led the Predators in scoring during the 2019-20 regular season with 65 points, followed by Forsberg with 48 and Matt Duchene with 42. Forsberg tallied 21 goals, Nick Bonino and Craig Smith had 18 each and Josi posted 16.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne posted an 18-14-4 record with a 3.17 goals-against average and .895 save percentage; Saros went 17-12-4 with a 2.70 GAA and .914 SV% with four shutouts.
Dallas went 37-24-8 in the regular season to earn 82 points and finish third in the Central Division. Tyler Seguin led the team in scoring with 50 points, followed by Jamie Benn with 39 and Miro Heiskanen with 34. Denis Gurianov led the team with 20 goals, followed by Benn and Roope Hintz with 19 apiece.
Ben Bishop went 21-16-4 in net for the Stars with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage; Anton Khudobin was 16-8-4 with a 2.22 GAA and .930 SV% on the season.
Video: Arvidsson, Johansen and Grimaldi preview the Stars
Nashville is 40-42-(1)-5 all-time against Dallas, including a 2-2-0 record this season. The Preds completed back-to-back shutouts of the Stars on March 5 and 7, with Juuse Saros blanking Dallas in both games.
Notables Versus Dallas:
Roman Josi has recorded 28 points (10g-18a) in 36 career contests versus Dallas, including a four-point game (2g-2a) on Feb. 25, 2013. Ryan Johansen has posted 20 points (7g-13a) in 32 career games against the Stars.
Juuse Saros is 6-0-1 in his career against the Stars with a 1.97 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for this afternoon's contest from Edmonton begins on FOX Sports Tennessee at 3 p.m. CT. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason, Lyndsay Rowley and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 2 p.m. with Darren McFarland. The game may also be seen on the NHL Network in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV