Stars Continue Wild Card Push Against Predators

Dallas have been slowly gaining ground on Nashville, and a regulation win tonight puts the team on the doorstep of a playoff spot.

There hasn’t been much exciting about the Dallas Stars slow ascension up the Central Division standings, but headed into a showdown on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, the team is on the verge of reaching a first goal - a solid spot inside the playoff wild card race.

Wednesdays overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets showcased a team that still has trouble generating offense, especially at even strength. The penalty kill, as of late, has also been struggling - the effort against the Jets included a four minute span with a Joe Pavelski slapper from the blue line surrounded by multiple jaunts back to the defensive zone to retrieve the puck. At least the penalty kill generated some offense.

Surprisingly, the top line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson and Pavelski only hit the scoresheet in the assist column. It was Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn who dominated the stats, with a nice supporting effort by Denis Gurianov. Nice to have a second line that can pull out a game.

Concerning for tonights game -  in making the push for the tie, the top lines played major minutes. Jacob Peterson and Joel Kiviranta each played mid-single digit minutes. It worked against the Jets, and the team has two points in the bank to show for it, but watch out if the team needs a burst of energy from the top lines to pull out a win tonight.on.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Michael Raffl (18) - Radek Faksa (12) - Luke Glendening (11)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Jacob Peterson (40) - Alexander Radulov (47)

Ryan Suter (20) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Thomas Harley (55) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)

Braden Holtby (70)
Jake Oettinger (29)

Nashville Predators Lineup

Filip Forsberg (9) - Mikail Granlund (64) - Matt Duchene (95)
Luke Kunin (11) - Ryan Johansen (91) - Philip Tomasino (26)
Yakov Trenin (13) - Colton Sissons (10) - Tanner Jeannot (84)
Eeli Tolvanen (28) - Michael McCarron (47) - Matt Luff (24)

Roman Josi (59) - Dante Fabbro (57)
Mattias Ekholm (14) - Matthew Benning (5)
Alexandre Carrier (45) - Phillippe Myers (55)

Juuse Saros (74)
David Rittich (33)

The Nashville schedule has been pretty light in February. This is just the teams seventh game, and they’ve sported a 2-4-0 record so far. That does, however, include a 6-4 road win against the Florida Panthers the last time out.

Who knows what the Predators are thinking, with the trade deadline approaching? Certainly doesn’t look like a team that likes where its at.

Keys to the Game

Legs. Its going to be a long day - travel and a game - after a draining game for the Stars top lines.

Goaltenders. Holtby is the likely starter, and he hasn’t played since Oettinger took over as the de facto starter. For the second game in a row, the Stars are facing high quality netminding on the other end of the ice. Dallas can’t lose this matchup.

Special Teams. The power play was anemic against Winnipeg. Time to get back to basics, especially with the first group. Keep up the good work on the penalty kill.