The Dallas Stars continue their season-ending homestand against the Nashville Predators tonight at American Airlines Center. The Predators, who have locked down a playoff spot in the West, are still in a battle for positioning for the NHL's postseason tournament. The Stars will have their own agenda heading into tonight's game.
"I've used the last game in Nashville as our motivation," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
That last game in Nashville, which was on Feb. 12, was one of the Stars' more humiliating and significant losses of the season. The Stars had a 3-0 lead late in the second period, but surrendered five straight goals and lost 5-3. The loss prevented the Stars from moving to within four points of the Predators and a playoff spot, and when they lost their next two games - at Winnipeg and at Minnesota - the reality of their playoff chances started to become clear.
"We didn't like the way that [Nashville] game unfolded," Ruff said. "I want to see our team bring the best tonight."
Antti Niemi was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so it appears he will make his second straight start tonight. Niemi stopped 24 of 26 shots in the Stars' 3-2 overtime win over Arizona on Tuesday.
It was an optional skate for the Stars this morning, so they didn't run lines. Based on Wednesday's practice, they will probably go with the same lines as Tuesday's game against the Coyotes.
On defense, the guess is the Stars go with the same six as last game. Patrik Nemeth, who was a healthy scratch the last game, skated late again this morning so he could be sitting out a second straight game along with Greg Pateryn. But we'll have to wait until warm-ups to find out what Ruff plans to do.
Video: Stars need to be better against Preds
Juuse Saros is expected to get the start in goal tonight for Nashville. He is 9-8-3 with a 2.32 goals-against average, and .924 save percentage. It appears James Neal, who has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, will be back in the lineup tonight. Forwards Mike Fisher and Cody McLeod and defenseman Ryan Ellis could get the night off to rest tonight for the Predators.
Who: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Devin Shore
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Gemel Smith - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Jason Dickinson - Justin Dowling - Adam Cracknell
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Julius Honka
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Greg Pateryn
Injured: Curtis McKenzie (eye), Antoine Roussel (hand), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jiri Hudler (groin), Patrick Sharp (hip), Mattias Janmark (knee)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.