Predators-Stars Preview

The Associated Press

After a spectacular January, the Nashville Predators haven't had nearly the same success this month.

Judging by the recent results in the series, a visit to the Dallas Stars might make it difficult for the Predators to get back on track, but the struggling Stars might not have one of their leading scorers available Sunday night.

Nashville (33-19-6) won 11 of 13 games last month, but is 2-3-2 so far in February. Its latest defeat was one of its most heart-breaking, yielding the go-ahead goal with five seconds left during a 2-1 defeat in Detroit on Friday that extended a season-high road losing streak to four games.

"For the majority of the game, we played a good game but, you know, it's frustrating to lose like that," center Nick Spaling said. "When you're so close you've got to at least get some points."

Nashville has failed to earn any points in either matchup with Dallas this season and outscored 10-4 over those two defeats, including a 6-3 loss at the American Airlines Center on Dec. 23.

The Stars (29-25-4) have also won four of five over the Predators and five of seven at home, but they enter this matchup 1-2-2 over their last five games. After earning that lone win Thursday against Calgary, Dallas fell 2-1 in overtime at Phoenix on Saturday.

"We played hard, but we need results," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "It's a results-based business, and we need results. We need to capitalize, and we can't make a mistake at the end to give a point away."

All-Star Jamie Benn, whose 49 points are tied for the team lead with Loui Eriksson, missed that game after suffering a cut to the back of his left knee during the 3-2 overtime win over the Flames

The left winger had a goal and an assist in each of the Stars' wins over the Predators this season. Eriksson, and Mike Ribeiro also registered four points apiece in those victories.

Eriksson has three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak against Nashville, and Ribeiro has three goals and four assists over his last four matchups.

No Nashville player has more than one point against the Stars this season, but Spaling enters this game having scored a goal in back-to-back contests. Jordin Tootoo also has an assist in three of his last four.

Stars backup goaltender Richard Bachman might be assigned to stop the Predators after Kari Lehtonen started Saturday's road game. Bachman, who is seeking his first win since Jan. 7, matched a career high with 34 saves during the victory over the Predators in December.

Lehtonen, however, is 5-2-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average in seven lifetime matchups with Nashville. The Predators' Pekka Rinne is 1-3-0 with a 3.84 GAA in his last five starts against Dallas.

Nashville hasn't dropped five in a row on the road since Jan. 21-Feb. 9, 2010.

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