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Stars look to keep foot on gas in Game 2 against Predators

After stealing Wednesday's opener, Dallas hopes to put Nashville on its heels and take control of the series

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars will look to take a 2-0 series lead when they take on the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their first-round Western Conference series Saturday at Bridgestone Arena (5 p.m. CT; FS-SW, CNBC; KTCK). The Stars took Game 1 of the series, 3-2, in Nashville on Wednesday.

Saturday's an opportunity for the Stars to put the Predators on their heels in the series.

Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-seven series in the NHL have an all-time series record of 318-50 (86.4 percent), including a 72-20 record (78.3 percent) when taking a 2-0 lead on the road.

"Going on the road for the first two games the mindset is you have to try to steal one. That's the goal," said Stars center Tyler Seguin. "Obviously, when you get the first one you want to get two. But we're expecting a lot better Nashville team [Saturday] night."

The Stars would like a better start on Saturday.

They were on their heels in the first period Wednesday, fell behind 1-0 and it could have been worse if not for some big saves from goaltender Ben Bishop. They tightened up defensively in the second and tied the game on a Miro Heiskanen power-play goal and then took a 3-1 lead in the third on goals by Alexander Radulov and Mats Zuccarello and held off a late push by the Predators for the 3-2 win.

"Maybe it took the first period for us to settle in a little bit," said Stars defenseman Taylor Fedun. "But then we got back to that game that we were playing the last month, the last two months of the year that was successful for us. We were playing the game fast, getting above their options, and I thought we did a good job of taking away their time and space. And when they were coming at us, I thought we did a good job of protecting the middle of the ice."

Video: Seguin looking to be 'less smiley' in Game 2

But the message for the Stars is it is just one game. There is still a tough road ahead against a very good Nashville team that will be determined to even the series Saturday night.

"We need to be even keel. We have not won anything," said Stars defenseman Ben Lovejoy. "We're still the seventh seed; we're still playing the second seed. Ben Bishop was great. He was a huge part, maybe the reason we won that game. We can't feel too good about ourselves. We've got a big Game 2 coming up."

There were no lineup changes in Friday's practice.

The line combinations and defense pairs were the same as those used in Wednesday's series opener. Seguin was centering the top line with Jason Dickinson and Alexander Radulov while Jamie Benn was on left wing with center Roope Hintz and right wing Mats Zuccarello. Radek Faksa centered Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau, and Justin Dowling was in the middle on the fourth line with Mattias Janmark and Tyler Pitlick on the wings.

The defense pairs were Esa Lindell-John Klingberg; Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak; Taylor Fedun-Lovejoy.

"We haven't made a final determination (on a lineup) yet," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said, "but sometimes it is hard to change when the team played well."

Bishop is the expected starter in goal, although there has been no official announcement.

 

Predators watch

While the Stars don't want to get too high after Wednesday's Game 1 victory, the Predators are trying to not get too down on themselves and moving forward to Saturday's second game of the series.

"We've all been here," Nashville forward Colton Sissons said. "We've had plenty of losses under our belts, and it feels like it's five losses in a row right now, but it's just the first game of the playoffs. There's room for improvement, there's areas that we can clean up and be better at, and we'll do that.

"We know exactly what we need to do."

The Predators will look for a better 60-minute game. They had a strong first period and had a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes, but the final 40 minutes leaned toward Dallas.

A sign of how much better the Stars were over the final two periods of Game 1: The Predators had 11 scoring chances five-on-five in the first period, according to natural stattrick.com, but only ten over the final two periods. And the Stars had a 6-2 advantage in high-danger chances over the final 40 minutes.

"You saw it in the first period (Wednesday)," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "When we are on our toes and on the attack, we're playing good hockey. We just lost a little bit of focus through the course of the game. That's all. It's not like we have to reinvent the wheel here."

Based on Friday's practice, the Predators are expected to go with the same lineup they used in Wednesday's series opener.

Video: Stars hold on to beat Predators in Game 1

 

Saturday's game

Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Series: Western Conference Round 1, Game 2 (Stars lead 1-0)
Where: Bridgestone Arena
When: 5 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
National TV: CNBC
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM/96.7-FM

 

Stars projected lineup

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

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Valeri Nichushkin, Jason Spezza, Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak, Julius Honka, Landon Bow
Injured: None
Injured Reserve: Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches), Marc Methot (knee surgery)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Victor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund - Kyle Turris - Craig Smith
Colton Sissons - Nick Bonino - Austin Watson
Brian Boyle - Calle Jarnkrok - Wayne Simmonds

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Dan Hamhuis - Dante Fabbro

Pekka Rinne
Juuse Saros

Scratched: Cody McLeod, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Frederick Gaudreau, Rem Pitlick, Miikka Salomaki, Niclas Westerholm
Injured: None

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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