The Predators have won both games in the series so far, a 4-1 game that wasn't as close as the score early in the season and an evenly-played 3-2 win in November. Both the Preds and the Stars are among the hottest teams in the NHL at the moment as well, which sets up tonight's game as an important measuring stick for Dallas.
The Stars will make a roster change at forward for the first time in several games as Shawn Horcoff returns from illness to his spot on the fourth line with Vernon Fiddler and Travis Moen. That configuration, combined with the move of rookie Brett Ritchie to the top line, leaves Colton Sceviour as the healthy scratch.
The writing was probably on the wall for Sceviour in the loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he lost both his top-line spot and his power play time to Ritchie after a couple bad turnovers. Moen, the other logical candidate for the healthy scratch, has been playing very well recently on the fourth line alongside Fiddler.
Here's the full lines from the morning skate, per Mike Heika:
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie
Erik Cole-Jason Spezza-Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel-Cody Eakin-Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff-Vernon Fiddler-Travis Moen
Roussel, one of two active NHL players who were born in France, is making a nice tribute to the awful events that have been taking place in his home country tonight.
For the defensemen, Jordie Benn and David Schlemko split time alongside Jason Demers in the morning skate, but which one slots in tonight against the Predators was unclear. Given that Schlemko was working with Trevor Daley before last game, it could simply be a matter of seeing how he fits with different partners at this point.
The defensemen were working like this, again per Heika:
Alex Goligoski-John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak-Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn/David Schlemko-Jason Demers
Kari Lehtonen was the first goalie off the ice and looks like the starter in the divisional game. This is the second time he will face the Predators this year, as he gave up a late goal in a 3-2 loss to the Predators in November. The Stars were mired in a losing streak at the time, and although they played well, that game ended in the sixth consecutive loss.
On the Preds side of things, there will be two fewer former Dallas Stars in the lineup than we were expecting as both James Neal and Eric Nystrom were placed on injured reserve Thursday morning. Both are apparently nursing the dreaded lower-body injury. Neal hasn't played since the calendar flipped over to 2015 while Nystrom is nursing a new injury.
The wonderfully-named Miikka Salomaki has been called up to help fill out the roster.