(Sports Network) - The Dallas Stars will try to continue their playoff push
with a fourth straight victory when they visit the struggling Nashville
Predators for Friday's game at Bridgestone Arena.
Despite being sellers before the deadline, dealing Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy
and Jaromir Jagr out of Dallas, the surprising Stars find themselves tied with
Columbus for 10th in the West and three points out of a playoff spot. Detroit,
which is playing Friday night in Nashville, is occupying the West's eighth and
final playoff seed with 44 points.
The Stars have won three straight and another victory on Friday would match
the club's longest winning streak of the season. Dallas, which had lost three
straight prior to its current hot streak, won four in a row from Feb. 4-12.
Dallas turned in its most recent triumph at home, as the Stars used a big
third period on Tuesday to blast the Los Angeles Kings by a 5-1 score. Ray
Whitney scored twice during the four-goal barrage over the final 20 minutes,
helping Dallas cruise to the win.
Vernon Fiddler also had two goals and added an assist, while Alex Goligoski
scored once for the Stars.
It wasn't all good news for Dallas, however, as starting goaltender Kari
Lehtonen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury after
allowing one goal on eight shots. Richard Bachman stopped all 22 shots in
"Solid. Real solid," said Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan on the play of Bachman.
"You could see his rebound control and his confidence. He's out in his crease.
He hasn't played for a while, so it's a good one for him."
Lehtonen, the clear-cut No. 1 netminder for the Stars, was able to return to
practice on Thursday and will make the trip to Nashville. However, Dallas also
recalled goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp from its AHL affiliate on Wednesday
and he may be forced to serve as the backup tonight.
The Stars have won two straight on the road and are 10-8-1 as the guest this
season. Dallas claimed three consecutive away wins once this season, beating
Colorado on Feb. 4 before notching a pair of victories in Edmonton on Feb. 6
While Dallas heads into Friday's encounter on a hot streak, the Predators have
lost their last four in regulation to seriously damage their playoff chances.
Nashville, which hasn't missed the postseason since 2009, is currently seeded
13th in the West and is six points out of a playoff spot.
Nashville has suffered a pair of 1-0 setbacks during its current slide and
that was the final score in Tuesday's home loss to St. Louis. The Predators
forced Brian Elliott to make just 15 saves for the shutout.
Alexander Steen's blast with 3:23 remaining in the second period was the lone
blemish on Pekka Rinne, with the Nashville netminder accumulating 25 saves but
receiving little offensive support.
"We can't sustain any offense and it is tough to get any shots," said
Predators defenseman and captain Shea Weber. "Everything we've got has been
from the outside and we really did not have very many good scoring chances."
Nashville has been dealing with a rash of injuries to forwards, as Gabriel
Bourque, Mike Fisher, Paul Gaustad and Brandon Yip have been sidelined lately.
Of that group, only Bourque, who has sat out the last five games due to an
upper body injury, is expected to have a chance at playing in tonight's game.
The Predators have lost three straight on home ice to see their record at
Bridgestone Arena this season fall to 10-6-4. Nashville is playing the second
tilt of a four-game homestand on Friday and will close it with games against
Detroit and Vancouver.
Nashville has won both meetings against the Stars this season, however, and
has taken four straight in the series overall. Dallas also has dropped three
of four and six of its past nine in Music City.
The Sports Network