Dallas Stars (9-8-1, 19 pts) @ Nashville Predators (8-6-5, 21 pts)
7:00 PM CT
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
The Predators – 6th in the West
Goals – 30th, Goals Against – 3rd, Power Play – 25th, Penalty Kill – 7st
If there was one team that an injury depleted Stars defense would want to play, it’s the Nashville Predators.
Nashville has scored only 39 goals this season, second fewest in the entire NHL (only two ahead of Minnesota despite playing two more games), and average a paltry 1.9 goals per game.
The Predators are coming into this game on the heels of being shutout in their past two contests (five total shutouts this season).
Pekka Rinne and the defense have kept that team afloat. Rinne has played well this season (three shutouts) and will be the starter again tonight. He’s been a bit average against the Stars in his career though, so hopefully Dallas can take advantage of that.
The Predators are led by Colin Wilson (five goals, nine assists). Wilson leads the team in goals, assists and points and is one of only two players on the team (Martin Erat the other) that has double digit points on the season.
Wilson was on a five game point streak before the back-to-back shutouts. Shea Weber has been a bit of a disappointment to the team with only seven points. He’s struggled without Ryan Suter next to him but has found his game a bit the past two weeks (all three of his goals scored in the last five games).
Rinne will get the start tonight. The only injury concern for the Predators is center Paul Gaustad (upper body). Gaustad is Nashville’s best face-off guy and one of the best in the league (62.6 win percentage).
Possible line combos:
Kostitsyn – Legwand – Hornqvist
Wilson – Fisher – Erat
Bourque – Spaling – Halischuk
Yip – Smith – Clune
Weber – Josi
Hannan – Klein
Ellis – Gill
Dallas – 8th in the West
Goals – 18th, Goals Against – 17th, Power Play – 18th, Penalty Kill – 11th
Dallas had a bit of surprising win last game with a solid 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. They controlled a lot of that game and were able to keep Cristopher Nilstorp relatively clean despite the numerous losses on defense.
Those losses on defense included Aaron Rome suffering what looks to be a pretty serious foot injury and Philip Larsen leaving the game after crashing hard into the boards. Rome was placed on the IR while Larsen is not on this road trip.
Throw into that mix Trevor Daley also going on IR and the already porous defense is running on fumes. Jamie Oleksiak was called back up to the team and will immediately see time tonight. He had a bit of an offensive explosion down in Austin in his short return stint there and can hopefully bring some of that back with him.
The team also brought up Carl Sneep to be an extra body on the blue line if Daley can’t go tonight.
Nilstorp gets the start again tonight after his solid showing against the Sharks. Dallas will be without Larsen, Rome and Ray Whitney (foot). Daley is most likely out, though he could come off of IR and play tonight if necessary.
Morrow – Benn – Jagr
Eriksson – Roy – Smith
Roussel – Eakin – Ryder
Nystrom – Fiddler – Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Benn – Sneep
Goligoski – Oleksiak