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14-11-5
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15-14-3

Stars-Predators Preview

AP - Sports

The Nashville Predators snapped their longest losing streak of the season with a big win in their last game.

Coach Barry Trotz's team, though, hardly seems content.

The Predators try to make it two in a row Thursday night against the visiting Dallas Stars as these Central Division rivals meet for the first time.

Nashville (14-14-3) had been outscored 18-7 during an 0-4-1 skid before a 4-1 road win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Paul Gaustad tallied a goal and two assists while Matt Hendricks and Rich Clune added one of each.

"I think everyone is going to sleep a little easier," said Clune, who had gone without a point in his first 17 games. "We stopped the bleeding, but we have to move forward, ride the high on the plane, but refocus fast."

Carter Hutton made 28 saves in his first start since Nov. 10, improving to 5-3-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average. Rookie Marek Mazanec had compiled a 3.42 mark during the losing streak.

"Especially not playing in a while, you want to get some shots and feel good," Hutton told the NHL's official website. "I think I did a good job tonight of handling the puck. For me, that's a way of establishing my game."

The Predators now turn their attention to the Stars (14-10-5), whose next four games come against division foes. Dallas visits Winnipeg and Colorado after this game before returning home to face the Avalanche again.

"It's a big four games," defenseman Brenden Dillon told the team's official website. "We've been playing well on the road, we want to keep that going and we've got to understand the meaning of these games.

"We just have to understand that we have to win and take care of ourselves. We don't want to have to rely on someone else to help us with our fate. We want to be able to control our destiny."

While the Stars are 2-3-4 in their last nine at home, they are 7-1-1 on the road since the start of November. Dallas sits in fifth place in the Central with 33 points, two more than last-place Nashville.

The Stars are looking to bounce back from Tuesday's 6-2 loss to NHL-leading Chicago. Kari Lehtonen stopped 15 of 19 shots before getting pulled 8:20 into the second period.

"We just got flat-out outworked. You're not going to win like that," coach Lindy Ruff said. "That was something we've taken a lot of pride in, but we got outskated," he said. ''If we want to be one of the best teams, we've got to beat the best."

Antoine Roussel provided all the offense, giving him five goals and two assists in the last seven games.

"He's the one bright spot," Ruff added. "He wasn't afraid to get into dirty places and he got rewarded for being in the right place. I admire the way he plays the game."

Lehtonen is 1-3-3 with a 3.26 GAA over his last seven contests. He has dropped three consecutive starts against the Predators while compiling a 3.06 GAA.

Eric Nystrom, who spent the previous two seasons with Dallas before signing with Nashville this summer, faces his former team for the first time.

The Predators had taken four straight from the Stars before losing the last matchup 5-2 on April 12. Alex Chiasson, who scored twice that night, has just one goal in his last six games.

Dallas is 9-3-0 when Chiasson has at least one point compared to 5-7-5 when he doesn't.

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