Game 59 Preview: Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars

Nashville Predators (33-19-6, 72 pts) @ Dallas Stars (29-25-4, 62 pts)

6:00 PM CT, February 19, 2012

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

The Stars found themselves on the downside of the NHL teeter-totter once again after yesterday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Despite playing a fantastic game, one where they dominated the run of play for most of the second and third periods, Dallas lost the game in overtime. They managed to get a point out of the game, but it was far from the desired result.

Dallas didn’t start the game very well, which led to a Yotes goal, but found their legs after the first intermission. That type of effort needs to be shown throughout the game tonight if Dallas wants to even have a chance to make the playoffs (though I’m not sure if the playoffs are in the best interest for the future of this team).

Dallas remains three points behind the 8th spot in the standings, though now it’s behind the Calgary Flames (The LA Kings have dropped out of the playoffs after their last game). Tonight they find themselves on another latter game of a back-to-back, which any Stars fan can tell you has been a gigantic thorn in the Stars side this season.

The loss of Jamie Benn only makes tonight that much harder so guys like Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson (who’s disappeared) need to show up in this game. The good news is that Dallas has had solid success against the Preds this season, winning each of the previous two matchups (6-3 and 4-1).

Kari Lehtonen wants to start the game tonight so I say let him go. He’s been incredible lately and Dallas will certainly need all they can get from him tonight.

The Stars will be without Brenden Morrow (neck), Sheldon Souray (foot) and Jamie Benn cause of his leg laceration.

more after the jump


The Predators have to wishing for February to end as fast as possible. After a fantastic two month run (when they lost only 7 games), Nashville has been 2-3-2 in the month of February. They lost their last game when Pavel Datsyuk scored the game winner with five seconds left in the game. They have now lost four straight on the road, while being outscored 14-8.

The Preds recently made a move and traded for defensemen Hal Gill to try and make it even tougher to get past Pekka Rinne and he should make his Predators debut tonight. With the success that the Stars have had against Rinne this season (He’s allowed 7 goals and was pulled in the first game), it seems they’ll need Gill.

The Predators will be without two forwards, Brian McGrattan (upper body) and Patric Hornqvist (upper body).

Notes and thoughts:

  • Dallas is 16-11-2 at home this season.
  • Nashville is 15-12-2 on the road this year. 
  • Dallas has scored 5 of the 10 goals against the Predators this season in the first period.
  • In the last four road games, Nashville is 10 of 14 on the penalty-kill.
  • Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson have enjoyed success against the Predators this season. Eriksson has 1 goal and 3 assists this season while Ribeiro has 3 goals and an assist. They have to score tonight, absolutely have to.
  • Benn had 2 goals and 2 assists in the season series.