After opening the season with some overseas success, the Nashville Predators return home looking to continue their recent strong play against the Dallas Stars.
The Predators can start 3-0 for the first time since 2015-16 by recording a fifth consecutive home victory over the Stars on Thursday night.
Veteran Nino Niederreiter scored three times for his new club, while Juuse Saros and Kevin Lankinen combined to save 61 of 64 shots as Nashville outscored San Jose 7-3 to win both games of the NHL Global Series against the Sharks in Prague.
“We definitely gained some confidence,” forward Ryan Johansen, who recorded an assist in the two games, told the Predators’ official website.
“Obviously, there’s so much work to do. We’ve got 80 games left, but we should definitely feel pretty good about ourselves. When we’re doing the right things on the ice, we can be a successful team and create a lot of trouble for the opposition.”
Nashville has certainly done that while winning eight of the last 10 meetings with Central Division-rival Dallas. However, those contests have been highly competitive, with all but two of the last 10 matchups decided by one goal — and none by more than three.
The Stars, however, are 2-2-6 in those 10 previous meetings with the Predators, and look to build on a 46-win season and playoff berth from 2021-22. Peter DeBoer takes over behind the Dallas bench, which could be the biggest adjustment the club needs to make, especially when it comes to consistency. The Stars were a stellar 27-10-4 at home last season, but 19-20-2 on the road, where they’re mired in an 0-1-3 rut against Nashville.
“Our team’s in a good spot, a little bit of transition, but it’s a good transition,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “We have a great core of players, and we have a great group of young players coming in.
“They key was to find the right (coach) to be able to bring this all together.”
Though Dallas must overcome the loss of veteran defenseman John Klingberg, it still boasts some of the NHL’s most potent offensive performers. Joe Pavelski set career bests with 54 assists and a team-high 81 points last season, while rising star Jason Robertson, who just signed a four-year, $7.75 million annual contract, led the club with 41 goals in his second full NHL campaign.
Meanwhile, the additions of former Florida forward Mason Marchment (47 points in 2021-22) and rookie center Wyatt Johnston should be impactful for the Stars’ cause.
Robertson has recorded six goals with three assists in 12 career games against the Predators. However, Pavelski, dating to his days with San Jose, has just four points in his last 12 games at Nashville.
Dallas’ Jake Oettinger won 30 games and posted a 2.53 goals-against average last season. He has a 2.18 GAA, despite a 1-1-2 career mark against the Predators.
Saros, meanwhile, owns that same 2.18 GAA while going 12-4-1 all-time versus Dallas. Teammate Matt Duchene, who recorded a career-high 43 goals last season and one with an assist in Prague, had three points in four games against the Stars in 2021-22.
–Field Level Media