The Dallas Stars should have no trouble finding motivation for their regular season finale.
Dallas looks to keep its hopes alive for the Western Conference title when it faces the Nashville Predators, who are winless in a franchise-record 14 straight games.
The Stars and Detroit Red Wings enter play Sunday tied for first place in the conference with 109 points, but Detroit has three more wins. Even if Dallas beats Nashville, the Red Wings would capture the top seed with a victory at Chicago on Sunday.
Finishing first in the conference won’t be the Stars’ only concern Sunday.
“It was a fluky thing,” Modano said. “I don’t think it’s something that’s going to hamper me down the road more than two days. Fortunately, there’s just one game left and then the playoffs start. You’re looking at the big picture and trying to get your mind and body ready for Wednesday.”
It also will be interesting to see if Marty Turco gets the start in goal Sunday.
Should Turco sit out, it would guarantee a modern-day record for the best goals-against average in a season with his 1.76 mark. If he does start, Turco will need to allow two goals or fewer the break the record of 1.77 shared by Tony Esposito in 1971-72 and Al Rollins in 1950-51.
“What’s at stake with Marty is secondary,” coach Dave Tippett said. “What’s at stake for the team is possibly a conference title.”
The Stars, 6-0-0-2 in their last eight, will face either Minnesota or Edmonton in the opening round of the playoffs.
Beating Nashville doesn’t figure to be easy for Dallas, which has lost all three meetings with the Predators this season and five in a row in the series.
Another poor offensive performance Friday in a 1-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes dropped the Predators to 0-9-3-2.
The Predators have been outscored 39-18 since their last victory March 7 at Dallas.
“You can’t win unless you score some goals,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We just couldn’t bury any chances. They come down and get one puck by us, and that’s the game.”
STANDINGS: Predators - 74 points, 4th place, 35 PB, Central Division. Stars - 109 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Andreas Johansson, 20 goals; Kimmo Timonen, 34 assists; Legwand, 48 points; Cale Hulse, 121 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 31 goals; Modano, 56 assists and 84 points; Brenden Morrow, 130 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 4): Predators - Power play: 14.2 percent (58 for 409), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.0 percent (289 for 348), 16th. Stars - Power play: 18.6 percent (60 for 322), 5th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (287 for 337), 8th.
SEASON SERIES: Predators, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: March 7; Predators, 2-1. At Dallas, Scott Hartnell scored the go-ahead goal with 2:57 left to lift Nashville.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 9-17-8-6 on the road; Stars - 27-5-6-2 at home.