The Dallas Stars (4-4-4) will look to halt a five-game winless skid and earn just their second home ice win of the season tonight when Lindy Ruff’s team plays host to Peter Laviolette’s Nashville Predators (7-3-2). Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.
This is the second of five meetings this season between the Central Division clubs.
The Predators won the first game, 4-1, in Nashville on Oct. 11. Dallas scored first and took a 1-0 lead to the first intermission, but the Predators took over the game as the night progressed.
The Preds went on score four unanswered goals. Former Nashville goaltender Anders Lindbäck (29 saves on 32 shots) took the loss in his Dallas regular season debut. Winning goaltender Pekka Rinne turned back 17 of 18 shots for the Preds.
The Stars got outshot by a 26-13 margin over the final 40 minutes of the game, including a 14-7 margin in the middle stanza and 12-6 in the third period. In terms of shot attempts over the course of the game, Nashville attempted 62 shots to 44 for Dallas.
Paul Gaustad and ex-Star Eric Nystrom notched a goal and an assist apiece for the victorious Predators. Gaustad had a Gordie Howe hat trick on the night, fighting Stars checking center Vernon Fiddler, and also won 11 of 16 faceoffs to complete one of the best all-around games of his NHL career. Defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi (empty net) tallied the Predators respective first and fourth goals of the night.
Antoine Roussel scored the lone goal for the Stars, opening the scoring a 7:14. On the sequence, former Dallas and Pittsburgh forward James Neal turned over the puck to Ryan Garbutt in the Nashville defensive zone. Roussel took a pass from Garbutt and snapped a shot from the bottom of the right circle past Rinne. Thereafter, there weren’t many highlights for the Stars.
The Stars have been an inconsistent team throughout the first month of the season. Ruff conducted a team meeting before practice in Frisco yesterday, on the heels of a players-only meeting in the dressing room after Tuesday’s turnover-filled 3-1 loss to Los Angeles. There was plenty to discuss.
Bad third periods and spotty team defense have been a problem for Dallas for much of the early season. Additionally, the club has recently fallen into a scoring funk that has seen the Stars score just one goal in each of the last three games and go 0-for-14 on the power play in that spend.
Forward Cody Eakin took a maintenance day on Wednesday and did not practice. He is expected to play tonight. In the meantime, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar — after just one game back in the lineup after missing the first 11 games of the season with an ankle injury — sustained a muscle strain in Tuesday’s game. Gonchar did not practice yesterday and is questionable for tonight.
The Predators got off to a strong start this season but have hit a hit of a lull in the midst of their current six-game road trip. Tonight’s game is the fifth game of the trip. Thus far, Nashville is 2-2-0. The trip concludes in St. Louis on Saturday night.
Nashville enters this game coming off a 3-1 loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday. The Predators found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole and were not able to climb out despite playing considerably better as the game progressed. Rookie Filip Forsberg continued his early bid for the Calder Trophy, notching his fourth goal and 12th point in as many games for the Predators.
Anton Volchenkov (NHL suspension) is unavailable for the Predators, along with Mike Fisher (Achilles tendon).
PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Patrick Eaves – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Shawn Horcoff
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratches: Colton Sceviour (healthy), Sergei Gonchar (muscle strain), Patrik Nemeth (IR for season, forearm laceration).
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – James Neal
Matt Cullen – Derek Roy – Craig Smith
Olli Jokinen – Cullen Wilson – Taylor Beck
Gabriel Bourque – Paul Gaustad – Eric Nystrom
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Ryan Ellis – Mattias Ekholm
Victor Bartley – Seth Jones
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.