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Stars expect 'loud and exciting' atmosphere at home for Game 3

After splitting the first two games in Nashville, Dallas hopes to feed off an 'electric building' at American Airlines Center

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars will look to take advantage of home ice when they take on the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series tonight at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m. CT; FS-SW, NBCSN; KTCK).

The Stars earned a split in the first two games in Nashville, winning 3-2 in Game 1 on Wednesday before falling 2-1 in overtime in Game 2 on Saturday. Now it's a best-of-five series, and the Stars want to make the most of playing at home the next two games, starting with a key Game 3.

When a best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the winner of Game 3 owns an all-time series record of 212-100 (67.9%).

"We want to take advantage of the home ice opportunity that we have," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "We love playing here; we love playing in front of our fans. It should be exciting tonight."


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Tonight's game will be the first Stanley Cup Playoff game in Dallas in just under three years, the last one coming in May 2016. The Stars are expecting a revved-up crowd at the AAC.

"I am expecting it to be pretty loud and exciting," said Benn. "Hopefully, it's an electric building and hopefully our fans wear green, be loud and cheer for the Stars."

"It's exciting," added Stars coach Jim Montgomery. "Seeing all the white towels on the seats already, kind of visualizing how boisterous and excited our fans are going to be and how it is going to elevate our team. Hopefully, we'll have a real good start tonight."

Video: Stars excited for playoff atmosphere at home

The Stars are expected to make only one lineup change for tonight's game. Jamie Oleksiak will come in on defense and skate with Ben Lovejoy on the third pair. Taylor Fedun, who played in the first two games of the series, will sit as a healthy scratch. The top two defense pairs remain the same: Esa Lindell-John Klingberg; Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak.

There are no changes expected at forward, but Mats Zuccarello and Mattias Janmark did not take part in this morning's skate at the AAC. Montgomery said Zuccarello, who returned from a broken arm just under two weeks ago, was off the ice for maintenance.

"Irritates it more, what's wrong with him, the more he handles the puck," Montgomery said. "So, let's let him handle the puck during the game."

Janmark missed part of Saturday's game after getting tangled up with Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis and awkwardly hitting the end boards. Janmark, who had to be helped off the ice, did return from the injury and finished the game.

"It didn't look good, but thankfully, he's in a situation where he is an option tonight," Montgomery said.

The forward lines are expected to be the same as last game with Tyler Seguin centering Jason Dickinson and Alexander Radulov, and Zuccarello skating on a line with Jamie Benn and Roope Hintz. Radek Faksa will center Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau, and Janmark is expected to skate with Justin Dowling and Tyler Pitlick.

Ben Bishop was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so he is the expected starter in goal tonight. Bishop has stopped 70 of 74 shots in the first two games of the series for a .946 save percentage.


Predators dealing with significant injuries

The Predators had some significant updates on the injury front Monday afternoon.

Forward Wayne Simmonds is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Simmonds was injured in Saturday's game when he was hit in the leg with a puck. Forward Brian Boyle, who missed Saturday's game, also is week-to-week after undergoing an appendix procedure.

Boyle and Simmonds were two of Nashville's key acquisitions during the second half of the season.

With Simmonds out, Miikka Salomaki could come into the lineup and play on the fourth line with Calle Jarnkrok and Rocco Grimaldi. Salomaki hasn't played an NHL game since early January due to an upper-body injury. He did play three AHL games in late March during a conditioning stint.

Grimaldi replaced Boyle in the Nashville lineup on Saturday and scored the Predators' lone regulation goal in their 2-1 overtime win.


Tonight's game

Who: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
Series: Western Conference Round 1, Game 3 (Tied 1-1)
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 8:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest, NBCSN
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
Jamie Oleksiak - Ben Lovejoy

Ben Bishop
Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Valeri Nichushkin, Jason Spezza, Brett Ritchie, Taylor Fedun, 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
Miikka Salomaki - Calle Jarnkrok - Rocco Grimaldi

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, Zac Rinaldo, Niclas Westerholm
Injured: Brian Boyle (appendix), Wayne Simmonds (lower body)

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 since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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