Just five points separate first and fourth place in the Central Division, but the front-running Nashville Predators have had the number of the Dallas Stars thus far this season. The Predators aim for their third win in as many meetings against the Stars on Saturday when the division rivals reconvene at American Airlines Center in the last contest before the Christmas break.
Nashville recorded a pair of three-goal victories over Dallas, including a 5-2 win on Dec. 5 that was part of a 6-0-1 stretch before the team was outscored 10-5 in losses to Winnipeg and Carolina, respectively. Kevin Fiala scored in that encounter versus the Stars and extended his point streak to nine games (eight goals, four assists) with the lone goal in Thursday’s 4-1 setback to the Hurricanes. While Nashville fell short, Tyler Seguin came up big by ending an eight-game goal drought with two tallies in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Chicago - giving Ken Hitchcock his 800th career victory in the process. “It feels good,” Seguin said. “Especially when you’re in a bit of a slump, get your weight off your shoulders a bit.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest-Plus (Dallas), FSN Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (21-9-4): Nashville sustained back-to-back losses for the first time since Nov. 1, giving Predators coach Peter Laviolette reason to be blunt in his assessment of his team’s play. “I guess to put it as honest as possible, we’re not playing hard enough,” Laviolette said after the setback to the Hurricanes. The Predators have been prone to slow starts to boot, getting outshot 62-28 in the first period over the last four games.
ABOUT THE STARS (19-14-3): Captain Jamie Benn is riding a five-game point streak at home and has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his last 10 in Dallas after scoring a goal in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Chicago. Benn has tormented the Music City residents to the tune of 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in his last 13 encounters, including a five-game point streak (three goals, five assists). Like Benn, Seguin has given the fans reason to cheer with points in seven of his last nine home games (six goals, five assists).
1. Dallas G Ben Bishop turned aside all 24 shots he faced on Thursday, improving to 5-2-2 in his last nine games.
2. Predators G Pekka Rinne was blitzed for four goals on six shots to receive an early exit in his last outing, but owns a 14-9-2 mark with three shutouts versus the Stars.
3. Dallas has scored a power-play goal in three of its last four games after a dismal 1-for-35 stretch in the previous 11.
PREDICTION: Stars 3, Predators 2