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Home 2012-13 Game Previews Morning Skate: Game 20 vs. Dallas
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Morning Skate: Game 20 vs. Dallas

UPDATE (1:15 PM CT): Preds look to end scoring drought

Goals have certainly been hard to come by for the Predators this season, especially of late. Despite racking up a combined 56 shots over the last two games, the Predators have come away empty handed in the goal-scoring department. Back-to-back shutouts over the weekend have put the Predators dead-last in the NHL in goals per game (1.95).

“I think we’re due,” Predators forward Colin Wilson said after today’s morning skate. “The last two games we had great chances and were doing the right things. Obviously it wasn’t the results you want, but once one goes in guys start feeling good and start getting that offensive touch and open things up.”

The Predators’ shot totals have increased from earlier in the season, but the goal-scoring has remained an issue. However, Mike Fisher feels one goal might open the flood gates for the team.

“It happens throughout the year,” Fisher said of the current drought. “It’s only a matter of our time; we’re going to get some goals.”

The team’s current goalless streak of 120:00 isn’t quite at the level of the record-setting 176:18 from earlier this season, but it’s not a good sign that these long stretches of droughts continue to plague the offense.

“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing. We are getting our chances. That’s obviously what’s not going to help us win, getting chances, but the fact we’re getting them makes you a little less worried,” Wilson said.

Head coach Barry Trotz added, “The bottom line is they don’t put the chances on the board; they put the goals. We have to find a way to have some finish around the net. If we have to kick one in legally, then that’s what we have to do.”

An important two points are on the line tonight. Dallas is 6-3-0 in their last nine games, while after tonight Nashville will play eight of their next 10 contests away from Bridgestone Arena.

“We know how important this game is tonight. We have to get back on track and get a win,” said Fisher. “We know we’re a great team and we’re going to come out strong tonight and get a win.”

*****

7:00 PM CT – Dallas Stars (9-8-1) @ Nashville Predators (8-6-5)
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: 102.5 The Game

Last time out:
DAL- The Stars pulled out a tightly-contested showdown against San Jose on Saturday night, winning 3-1. Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder and Jamie Benn all scored for the Stars, while rookie netminder Christopher Nilstrop stopped 31 of 32 shots to pick up his first NHL win.
NSH- For the fifth time this season, and for the second straight game, the Predators were shut out in Saturday’s tilt in Detroit. The Predators had their share of chances, but Jimmy Howard was there to stop all 33 shots that came his way in a 4-0 win for the Red Wings.

Players to watch:
DAL- Jamie Benn
The Stars’ top-line center is a difference-maker all over the ice, and Saturday proved that as he had a Gordie Howe hat trick.
NSH- Patric Hornqvist
Hornqvist has collected 23 shots on goal since returning from injury, but has yet to find the back of the net. He’s due… right?

Projected starting goaltenders:
DAL- Christopher Nilstrop (2012-13 stats: 1-3-0, 2.60 GAA)
NSH- Pekka Rinne (2012-13 stats: 7-5-4, 1.77 GAA)

Projected lineups from last game/practice:

Dallas Stars
Offense
Brenden Morrow Jamie Benn Jaromir Jagr
Reilly Smith Derek Roy Loui Eriksson
Antoine Roussel Cody Eakin Michael Ryder
Ryan Garbutt Vernon Fiddler Eric Nystrom
Tom Wandell Matt Fraser
Defense Goalie
Brenden Dillon Stephane Robidas Christopher Nilstrop
Alex Goligoski Aaron Rome Richard Bachman
Jordie Benn Philip Larsen
Trevor Daley*
Nashville Predators
Offense
Colin Wilson David Legwand Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque Mike Fisher Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn Craig Smith Richard Clune
Brandon Yip Nick Spaling Matt Halischuk
Paul Gaustad*
Defense Goalie
Roman Josi Shea Weber Pekka Rinne
Scott Hannan Kevin Klein Chris Mason
Jonathon Blum Ryan Ellis
Hal Gill* *-Injured

*Lineups are subject to change

Injury report:
DAL- Trevor Daley (neck, questionable), Aaron Rome (foot, questionable), Kari Lehtonen (groin, questionable), Ray Whitney (foot, out)
NSH- Paul Gaustad (upper body, questionable)

Keys to the game:
DAL- Strike first… The Predators have struggled scoring goals of late and they play much better while ahead than from behind; their 1-6-0 record when trailing first proves that. Dallas needs to set the tone tonight right off the bat, and scoring first may do wonders and let the team focus on playing solid defense in front of Nilstrop.
NSH- Bury early chances… In each of the last two games, both shutout losses, the Preds failed to capitalize on scoring chances early on. They can’t afford to do that tonight. As they prepare to head out west this week, these are two points they need to stash away. They can’t let this scoreless streak extend and have it get into their heads.

Numbers to know:
- 2011-12 season series vs. Dallas: Tied 2-2
- The Preds are 4-2-3 at home this season … Dallas is 5-5-0 on the road.
- All-time, the Preds are 14-11-1 at home against the Stars.
- Pekka Rinne is 5-4-0 with a 2.59 GAA and .902 save percentage in 11 career games vs. Dallas. His counterpart, Christopher Nilstrop, has never faced Nashville.
- Brandon Yip has 9 points in 10 career games vs. Dallas.
- Colin Wilson has 6 points in 9 career games vs. Dallas.
- Power play: Nashville (14.3%, 25th) … Dallas (16.7%, 18th)
- Penalty kill: Nashville (84.4%, 7th) … Dallas (83.3%, 11th)

Remember when?
Perhaps the most memorable moment in this matchup’s history is when Jordin Tootoo knocked out Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas back in 2007…

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