Stars bid to continue hot hand vs. Predators

NHL Hockey

The Dallas Stars are trying to catch the Nashville Predators for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.

Looking to inch closer by continuing their solid play against the Predators this season, the visiting Stars aim will for a third consecutive victory when the clubs meet in Nashville on Sunday night.

Nashville remains two points up on fifth-place Chicago despite losing for just the third time in 14 games following a 3-0 setback to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Dallas, meanwhile, resides in sixth place — five points behind the Predators with three games in hand.

The Stars, though, have 22 goals while going 3-0-3 vs. Nashville this season.

Dallas has outscored Chicago and Florida by a 9-2 margin in its past two games. The Stars will be looking to win three in a row for the first time since opening the season with a 4-0-0 record.

“We know what’s ahead of us (Sunday) in chasing down Nashville. Another big, important game,” Dallas captain Jamie Benn said.

Rookie Jason Robertson scored twice Saturday and has seven goals and 14 points over his past 15 games. He’s recorded three goals and two assists in his past four games vs. Nashville.

“I wanted to be an important player, and that’s something that I’ve worked hard to do these last couple of months, and want to continue doing along this stretch,” Robertson said.

Robertson’s teammate Roope Hintz has one goal and five assists in the past two games overall and two and five, respectively, in four contests against the Predators this season.

Anton Khudobin, who made 20 saves during Dallas’ 4-1 victory over Florida on Saturday, owns a 3-0-2 record with a 1.76 goals-against average vs. Nashville this season.

Jake Oettinger, however, could get the start. Oettinger, who is 1-2-0 with a 2.04 GAA this month, stopped 17 of 20 shots during a 4-3 home shootout loss to the Predators on March 7.

Nashville hasn’t lost back-to-back games since an 0-2-1 rut from March 9-13. The Predators need to bounce back offensively after being blanked for the fourth time this season on Saturday.

“You really have to turn the page,” said Predators coach John Hynes, who felt his club played well Saturday. “Our focus now is not to sit and dwell on (Saturday’s loss) when we’ve got a big game (Sunday).

“We’ve got a tough team coming in here to play, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready for Dallas.”

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne stopped 31 shots on Saturday in his first action since March 28. He’s won both starts versus Dallas this season despite allowing three goals in each.

Teammate Juuse Saros, meanwhile, has stopped 91 of 94 shots over his past three starts overall. He is 1-3-0 with a 3.55 goals-against average when facing the Stars this season.

Already without key contributors such as star Filip Forsberg (upper-body injury), Eeli Tolvanen remains day-to-day with a lower-body issue. Calle Jarnkrok is healthy and has two of his 11 goals this season vs. Dallas.

–Field Level Media

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