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Stars-Predators Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators

Saturday April 4
7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (37-31-10) lost 7-5 to St. Louis Friday. The Stars rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take a 5-3 lead, but the Blues then scored four straight to hand Dallas its second straight loss.

“We didn’t play smart hockey once again,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “It’s the same old story. We’re just not playing the right way when we have the lead. When you give a good team like that a chance to get back in it, they’re going to get back in it. Obviously they took it to us there.”

The Stars have lost three of four games and remain six points out of a playoff spot with four games remaining.

Saturday’s game kicks off a three-game road trip for the Stars, who also play at San Jose and Anaheim.

Injuries: C Shawn Horcoff (illness) is questionable.

About the Predators

The Predators (47-23-7) last played Tuesday, losing 5-4 in a shootout to Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena. It was the second straight loss for the Predators, who are in a tight battle for first place in the Central Division. Nashville is tied with St. Louis at 103 points but is in first based on the ROW tiebreaker. Chicago is one point behind the Predators and Blues.

“There’s a lot on the table, so the division is something that we’re looking at right now,” goaltender Pekka Rinne told the Predators website. “It’s only four more games to go, so physically, that’s not anything too demanding or anything like that. There’s lots on the table, and it’s nice to play for something. It’s not like we just wasted these last four games to get ready for playoffs. At the same time, going into playoffs, you want to be playing your best game.”

Defenseman Shea Weber (lower body) and forwards James Neal (upper body) and Matt Cullen (lower body) all practiced Thursday and Friday. They all are considered close to returning.

Saturday’s game wraps up a three-game homestand for the Predators, who are 0-1-1 in the first two games.

Injuries: D Shea Weber (lower body), LW James Neal (upper body) and C Matt Cullen (lower body) are questionable. C Paul Gaustad (head) and LW Eric Nystrom (lower body) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the fourth of five meetings this season between the Stars and Predators.

*The Stars are 0-2-1 (1 point) in the season series.

*The Predators are 3-0-0 (6 points) in the series.

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 6-14-7 vs. the Central Division.

*The Predators are 15-6-4 vs. the Central.

*The Predators rank second in the NHL in both home wins (28) and home points (59).

*The Stars are tied for ninth in road wins (21) and rank 12th in road points (44).

*The Stars are 4-6-1 in the second game of back-to-backs, but 4-2-0 in their past six.

*The Predators have allowed one power-play goal over the past seven games and are 16-17 (94.2%) on the penalty kill during that stretch.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his past eight games. He is tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring with 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 78 games.

*Nashville’s Filip Forsberg ranks second in rookie scoring with 59 points (23 goals, 36 assists) in 78 games.

*Dallas’ John Klingberg ranks seventh in rookie scoring and leads all rookie defensemen in points with 38 (11 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games.

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