NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, October 31st (All times eastern)
Dallas Stars (6-2-5) at Nashville Predators (5-6-1), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of teams that have been both going well as of late face off tonight at Nashville's Sommet Center, where the high-scoring Dallas Stars will attempt to knock off a Predators team in search of a third straight win.
Dallas has recorded at least one point in five straight games, having gone 3-0-2 over that span, and has scored four or more goals in each of those contests. The Stars are averaging 3.43 goals per game this season, a mark bettered only by Calgary among Western Conference clubs.
The Stars had their offense rolling once again on Friday, although the team still came up short in a 6-5 shootout loss to visiting Florida. Brian Sutherby and Fabian Brunnstrom each had a goal and an assist in the loss, while both Brenden Morrow and Tom Wandell finished with a pair of helpers.
Dallas put itself in an early 3-0 hole and trailed 4-2 early in the second period before Mike Ribeiro and James Neal netted goals to draw the Stars even. Florida went back in front on Rostislav Olesz' unassisted marker 1:42 into the third, but Brunnstrom scored just over a minute later to knot the game at 5-5.
Alex Auld stopped just 24-of-29 shots for the Stars, and allowed a goal from Olesz in the second round of the shootout that provided the winning margin.
"We showed a lot of character and persistence the way we fought back from a 3-0 deficit, but there were a lot of Florida Panthers who didn't get contested the way they needed to be," said Dallas head coach Marc Crawford, who was working his 1,000th career game behind the bench. "We've got to be a lot tighter."
The Predators have caught fire as of late after a rough early stretch in which the club lost six of its first eight tests. Nashville has won three of four since and is coming off back-to-back wins over Minnesota and Chicago, including Thursday's 2-0 defeat of the Blackhawks at the Sommet Center.
Pekka Rinne led the charge by stopping 22 Chicago shots to notch his first shutout of the season. The young netminder set a franchise record in that category as a rookie in 2008-09, blanking the opposition seven times in 49 starts.
Joel Ward broke a scoreless deadlock with a power-play goal late in the second period, with Jerred Smithson sealing the win with an empty-net tally in the final seconds.
"We're making some strides," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz afterward. "We're really happy with this effort."
The Predators played Thursday's contest without forward Martin Erat, scratched due to a lower-body injury. The team has also been missing standout center Jason Arnott for the past two weeks with an injured left arm, and neither is expected to be back in the lineup this evening.
Dallas will get Steve Ott back in the lineup tonight after the physical center served a two-game suspension for a low hit on St. Louis' Carlo Colaiacovo in an October 24 clash. Goaltender Marty Turco, however, will sit out a second straight outing due to flu-like symptoms.
Nashville will be aiming to avenge a 6-0 shellacking by the Stars in Dallas on October 14. The Predators did post a 3-2 shootout win in the Lone Star State on October 3, however.
Dallas has lost in four of its last six visits to the Music City, including both of its trips there in 2008-09.
10/31 10:46:07 ET