Predators-Stars Preview

The Associated Press

The Dallas Stars had a strong showing before the Christmas break, and they'll try to pick up where they left off Friday night against the struggling Nashville Predators.

The Stars couldn't get past the Predators earlier this month but will face a team trying to avoid matching its longest skid of the season.

Dallas (18-12-6) went 3-0-1 in its final four games before the three-day break and handed Los Angeles just in its second loss in its 11 games this month Monday. Tyler Seguin continued his red-hot play by scoring one of two goals in the first 6:10 and assisting on Valeri Nichushkin's tiebreaking score in the second period.

"We are trying to gain points in a really tough conference. The only way we are going to do it is to beat good teams," coach Lindy Ruff told the team's website. "We knew to move up the standings, before (a five-game homestand), that the only way was to get a real good effort tonight."

Seguin has seven goals and seven assists in his last nine games but was held without a point in a 3-1 loss in Nashville on Dec. 12. Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand scored goals in the final minute of the first period in that game, and Carter Hutton made 33 saves.

The Predators, though, enter this matchup having been outscored 17-8 during an 0-3-1 skid and were routed 6-2 by Boston on Monday. The Bruins scored three times in the first 10:47 and pulled away with three more goals in the final period, including two in a 49-second span after a pair of Nashville penalties.

"We've got a very, very young goaltending tandem that's trying as hard as they can. We have one of the youngest (defense) corps in the league, so right now, we almost have to play perfect," coach Barry Trotz said. "We don't have room for error. We have to play really good and really smart."

Nashville (16-17-4) is 3-7-2 in its last 12 and dropped five straight Nov. 28-Dec. 7 to begin that stretch. The Predators have also lost two of three on the road after winning a season-high three in a row and will face a Dallas team that's earned at least one point in six of its last seven at home, going 4-1-2.

The Stars have lost their past two home games against the Predators after winning 19 of the first 25, but Pekka Rinne was in net for the most recent visit, a 4-0 win March 12. Rinne is currently out because of a hip infection following surgery.

Dallas has never dropped three straight home games to Nashville, and Erik Cole will try to help his team avoid that unprecedented streak by scoring his third goal in as many games against the Predators.

Alex Chiasson has two goals and an assist in his two career matchups but has been dealing with an illness recently and sat out the win over Los Angeles. While Chiasson might return, Sergei Gonchar (concussion), Trevor Daley (lower body), Aaron Rome (lower body) and Stephane Robidas (leg) will likely all sit out.

Hornqvist has three goals and three assists in his last four games against Dallas, and Legwand has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past 10 matchups.

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