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Stars 'a confident group' heading into Game 5 vs. Preds

Dallas is comfortable playing in Nashville, where it's had success in both the regular season and playoffs

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

It's off to Nashville for the Dallas Stars who will take on the Predators in a crucial Game 5 of their first-round playoff series Saturday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena (2 p.m. CT; NBC; KTCK 1310-AM, 96.7-FM).

The Stars are coming off a big 5-1 win Wednesday in Game 4 that tied the series 2-2.

"I think we are a confident group," said Stars goaltender Ben Bishop. "All series long, nothing changes. You don't want to get too high or too low. [Game 4] was a big win, but you want to hit the reset button and get ready for a tough game."

The historical numbers tell the tale of how crucial Game 5 is in a best-of-seven series tied 2-2. The winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series 205 out of 260 times (78.8 percent). Bishop is aware of history but isn't reading too much into it.

"Yeah, but I've seen it every which way," Bishop said. "Been up 3-2 and lost a series and been down 3-2 and won a series. Every game is important. You don't' really want to look at the big picture. You want to play a good game and results will follow. We're playing good hockey right now, and we want to continue."

Stars coach Jim Montgomery looks at it the same way. It's a big game, but so is every other game in the series.

"I understand (how pivotal it is), but you want to keep winning every game," said Montgomery. "You win a game you buy another game. If we win Game 5, we know we are going to go to at least Game 7."

Video: Stars coming into Game 5 with positive mindset

The series is down to a best-of-three with the Predators holding home-ice advantage since two of the three (Game 5 and Game 7, if necessary) will be in their building. But home ice hasn't been much of a factor so far since both teams have won in the other team's building.

"I think it's lessened it, but it still helps especially when you get on a roll. But it definitely gets neutralized (at this point in the series)," Montgomery said. "Just look at St. Louis, down 2-0 yesterday (in Winnipeg) and came back and won in the third yesterday. It's more the team that plays the better team game that's going to survive."

And the Stars have had success in Nashville this season in both the regular season and playoffs. The won Game 1 of the series in Nashville and took two of three games there during the regular season.

"We've played five games there, and every game has been real tight, and we've won three of them," Montgomery said. "We feel comfortable playing in Nashville."

While there is confidence heading into Game 5, the Stars are expecting a tough game from a good team in the Predators. The Predators were juggling forward lines in Monday's practice, and their two injured forwards -- Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds -- were back on the ice, although it's unclear if they'll be able to play Saturday.

"We're trying to set ourselves up to close it out at home, but we have a tough game ahead," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "These guys are going to come back with a pretty strong effort, and we've got to be ready to go and determined to win a game on the road."

 

Janmark practices, could play Saturday

Stars forward Mattias Janmark, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, practiced Friday in Frisco. Stars coach Jim Montgomery said that Janmark is an option to play Saturday.

"We'll see how he feels later tonight and tomorrow morning after skating as hard as he did on it today," Montgomery said.

Defenseman Joel Hanley, who was called up from the AHL earlier this week after the Texas Stars' season ended, practiced with the team and skated on the fourth defense pair with Taylor Fedun. Julius Honka, who has been practicing as the eighth defenseman, skated before practice with the other AHL players who were recalled recently.

"With the 2 o'clock game this gives Honka the opportunity to get more repetitions and [Hanley] is more game-ready because he's been playing tons of games here down the stretch," said Montgomery. "That's all it is."

Here is how the Stars lined up in practice Friday.

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz - Mats Zuccarello
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Justin Dowling - Jason Spezza - Tyler Pitlick
Valeri Nichushkin - Mattias Janmark - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Ben Lovejoy
Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

For complete postseason coverage, visit Stars Playoff Central.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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