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Stars-Predators Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators

Monday, January 20
7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (21-19-8) are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss at Minnesota Saturday. The Stars outshot the Wild 35-19 and had more pucks directed towards the net by a 73-40 margin, but could come away with only one point in the game.

“This is disappointing,” said Stars forward Alex Chiasson. “It was probably one of our best games defensively as far as scoring chances given in a while. It’s tough. We battled through and it would have been nice to come up with a win here.”

The loss was the eighth in the last nine games (1-7-1) for the Stars and left them nine points behind Minnesota, which holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Monday’s game kicks off a back-to-back set for the Stars, including a rematch with Minnesota Tuesday in Dallas. The Stars need a couple of wins.

“There’s no doubt that we’re at red alert,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We know that.”

Stars captain Jamie Benn, who caught Minnesota forward Matt Cooke with a high hit in overtime Saturday, apparently will not have any kind of hearing with the NHL. The league appears to consider Benn’s hit protective or defensive in nature.

Ruff said he hasn’t decided if Valeri Nichushkin, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, will be back in the lineup for Monday’s game in Nashville.

“We’ll discuss that. I like what our group did,” Ruff said. “Val needs to play better. I am going to have a discussion with him. I want to find out where his energy level is. He had expressed how tired he was. He has to be energized and he has to play really hard, and if he doesn’t have that in his game yet then I have to be patient with him.”

The Stars held an optional practice in Nashville on Sunday.

Injuries: D Stephane Robidas (leg) is out.

About the Predators

The Predators (21-22-7) are coming off a 5-4 loss to Colorado in Nashville on Saturday. Nashville trailed 3-0 and 5-1 in the game, but scored three goals in less than nine minutes in the third period to make a game of it.

“We were not ready in the first period,” said Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist. “To come back from 3-0 is hard. We stayed together and played a really good 40 minute game, but in this league you have to play 60 minutes.”

The loss spoiled the Nashville debut of goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who was acquired from Edmonton earlier in the week. Dubnyk gave up five goals on 29 shots.

“I know Devan Dubnyk,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “He's been in the League a long time. I've seen a lot better games from him. He'll get better. His first game I know he was nervous. We gave him very little support early and he just looked like he was nervous after that.”

Nashville defenseman Shea Weber was named an alternate captain for Canada’s Olympic hockey team on Sunday. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was named captain and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews was named the other alternate captain.

Injuries: G Pekka Rinne (hip) is out.

Series Notes

*This is the third of five meetings between the Stars and Predators.

*Both teams are 1-1-0 in the season series.

*December 12: Dallas at Nashville: Predators 3, Stars 1

*December 27: Nashville at Dallas: Stars 4, Predators 1

Statistical tidbits

*Nashville has the lowest winning percentage in the league when surrendering the first goal of the game at .148 (4-20-3).

*The Stars are 25th in the league in winning percentage when scoring the first goal of the game at .542 (13-8-3).

*The Stars are 3-10 (30.0 percent) on the power play over the last three games and 8-39 (20.5 percent) over the last 11 games.

*Nashville is 5-13 (38.5 percent) on the power play over the last three games.

*The Stars are 23-33 (70.0 percent) on the penalty kill over the last 11 games.

*Nashville is 13-17 (76.5 percent) on the penalty kill over their seven games.

*The Stars are 5-7-5 vs. the Central Division.

*The Predators are 6-9-0 vs. the Central Division.

*Stars forward Ryan Garbutt has six points (three goals, three assists) in the last five games.

*Nashville forward Craig Smith has five goals over the last 11 games.

*Tyler Seguin leads the Stars in goals (21) and points (45)

*Craig Smith leads the Predators in goals (15) and David Legwand leads the Predators in points (34).

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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