Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 23rd
Game 2: Tuesday, December 28th
Game 3: Saturday, February 26th
Game 4: Saturday, March 26th

Predators 2

(31-23-8, 70 pts)

Stars 3

(33-23-6, 72 pts)

2:00 PM ET, February 26, 2011

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

1 2 3 T
NSH 0 2 02
DAL 1 0 23

K. Lehtonen (Stars - G): Saves: 25, Save Pct.: .926

A. Goligoski (Stars - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

C. Wilson (Predators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Predators-Stars Preview


The Nashville Predators have picked a bad time to be shut out in back-to-back games. The Dallas Stars just broke out of their own scoring slump.

These Western Conference playoff contenders each have 70 points heading into Saturday's crucial matchup at the American Airlines Center.

There are a logjam of teams competing for the final playoff spots in the West, and Nashville (31-22-8) and Dallas (32-23-6) are in that mix. Neither has played well recently, with the Predators losers of three straight while the Stars ended a five-game skid with Thursday's 4-1 victory at Detroit.

Nashville is in danger of being shut out in three straight games for the first time after a 4-0 loss at Columbus on Tuesday and a 3-0 defeat to Chicago on Thursday.

"We had some chances, but we couldn't find them," coach Barry Trotz said Thursday. "There were some loose pucks every period that we couldn't get a handle on."

Top goal scorer Patric Hornqvist has none in the last five games and two in his last 15. He only has two goals in nine career games against the Stars.

The Predators have struggled all season on the power play at 15.1 percent. They are 1 for 9 in the last four games, and 1 for 8 in two games against Dallas this season.

"There's no more excuses," captain Shea Weber said. "There's no reason why we should make mistakes. If we make them, we've got to make up for them and do better from it."

The Stars totaled six goals during their five-game slide before four different players scored Thursday. Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson had first-period goals and Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves.

"I think a win like this can give us the boost we need," Ribeiro said.

The Stars got a boost from the return of right wings Krys Barch and Adam Burish after both missed the previous eight games with facial injuries. Barch had eight shifts and scored his second goal.

"It was great to have them back because they're the leaders in this room," Ribeiro said.

Dallas also got solid work from a penalty-killing unit that is one of the NHL's worst at 79.0 percent, including 72.0 percent in a seven-game stretch prior to Thursday. The Stars killed off five of six penalties, and Eriksson's goal was the team's seventh short-handed tally of the season.

"I think that's desperate hockey for us," Barch said.

Dallas may have more help if top scorer Brad Richards returns. He's missed the last five games with a concussion and has been the subject of trade rumors.

Lehtonen is 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA in four career starts against the Predators. His lone start against them this season was Oct. 23 when he was outdueled by Pekka Rinne, who made 30 saves in a 1-0 victory.

Rinne was much worse Dec. 18 when he made 21 saves in a 4-2 home loss to the Stars. Andrew Raycroft started that game for Dallas and made 44 saves, improving to 3-2-0 with a 2.02 GAA in five starts against the Predators.