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Preview: Dallas Stars Host Nashville Predators (7:30pm CST)

...Eight Klingbergs clinging, seven Benn's a-swimming, six Geese a-Honka(ing), five two-on-ones! ... 

NHL: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars fell to 1-6-3 in games after a victory this season Tuesday night as the Calgary Flames left the AAC with both points in their pocket. Dallas' offense continues to struggle, managing just one goal on the night. The last time the team saw four goals? 12 games ago on November 13th.

They'll try to start the next would-be win streak tonight as the Nashville Predators return to town for the third of five meetings between the two this year.

More taco goals in the second period tonight and fewer odd-man rushes (including Tuesday's two-on-none) would be a welcome site for AAC faithful, and head coach Lindy Ruff alike.

"We had careless puck play," Ruff said simply Tuesday night. "Careless puck play by our best players. They’re all involved. If our best players can’t consistently get in there and generate, and score, and finish, we’re going to be up and down like we are. It’s frustrating."

Whether related to Tuesday's exploits or not, the head coach conducted a practice that had local media commenting thusly:

Curtis McKenzie's fantastic solo effort to pot the game's only goal Tuesday punctuated a nice performance by his line and his second straight game due to Patrick Sharp's regression on the concussion front- But word from practice was that Jason Dickinson is expected to get into the game tonight.

Who will sit? The guess is Cracknell or Shore, but as always we'll see. Lines run in practice were these with an eye on Jiri Hudler returning to the lineup sometime this weekend, perhaps-

  • Roussel-Seguin-Eaves/Hudler
  • Benn-Faksa-Ritchie
  • Dickinson-Spezza-Korpikoski
  • McKenzie-Eakin-Shore/Cracknell

Johnny Oduya is also skating, edging closer to a return this weekend as Julius Honka sits for a couple of games at least. Lindy Ruff opined that Honka's upper-body issue was not serious. There were tweets about a cast Tuesday night, but Honka did participate in a team activity at Texas Scottish Rite Children's Hospital on Wednesday.

Kari Lehtonen is on a pretty good roll in net, so it will be interesting to see if Ruff continues to ride that, or change it as part of a rinsing of the collective mouth after an unforgettable second period Tuesday night.

The Predators had been rolling, including that big 5-2 win over the Stars a couple of weeks ago, but they hit a minor stumbling block, losing a couple before bouncing back with a win over Colorado on Tuesday.

James Neal missed four games but returned and scored Tuesday night. Roman Josi and the shiny new toy in Subban also scored as the Predators D continues to be a big contributor from the back end the way the Stars' was last season.

Nashville boasted six games in a row without surrendering a power play goal but that part of their game has been disastrous lately, allowing two to Colorado, two to Philadelphia, and one to the Devils in their last three games to make five over that span in just 12 kills. The Stars would like to get in on that action- The problem is drawing penalties, which are products of possession with dangerous chances.

Their lineup hasn't changed much from a couple of weeks ago-

  • Arvidsson-Johansen-Smith
  • Forsberg-Ribeiro-Fiala
  • Wilson-Fisher-Neal
  • Gaudreau-Jarnkrok-Watson
  • Josi-Irwin
  • Ekholm-Subban
  • Weber-Granberg

Pekka Rinne

Marek Mazanec

Ryan Ellis and Miikka Salomaki are injured.

From Stars PR:

FIGHTIN' THE NASHVILLE BLUES

The Dallas Stars take on the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in the third of five meetings during the 2016-17 regular season. The Stars are 1-1-0 this season against Nashville, with Thursday's contest marking the first game of the season against the Predators at American Airlines Center. In the most recent meeting of the season on Nov. 23, the Stars saw their three-game winning streak against Nashville snapped as the Predators defeated the Stars, 5-2. Forwards Patrick Sharp (1-0=1) and Brett Ritchie (1-0=1) potted goals for Dallas and goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 16-of-20 shots. In two games against Nashville this season, forward Antoine Roussel leads all Stars skaters with two points (0-2=2).

MACK ATTACK

Forward Curtis McKenzie potted a goal (1-0=1) on Tuesday night against the Flames and now has goals in two consecutive games (2-0=2) for the first time in his NHL career. With his goal, McKenzie is now riding the second point streak of NHL career (other: two points from March 10-13, 2015). In 18 games this season, the forward has five points (3-2=5) and shares eighth on the club with 32 hits. With his goal on Tuesday night, McKenzie has now tied his career-high for points in a single season, matching his five points (4-1=5) recorded in 36 games during the 2014-15 campaign. Originally selected by Dallas in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, he has skated in 57 career NHL contests and has totaled 10 points (7-3=10). In one career contest against the Predators, he has tallied one assist (0-1=1) with two shots on goal.