Preview: Stars at Predators
The Nashville Predators hardly have looked like the favorite in their Western Conference first-round playoff series, getting their heads handed to them in Wednesday's Game 4 in Dallas. Still, despite the 5-1 drubbing, the second-seeded Predators return home to host the Stars in Game 5 on Saturday afternoon in what is bascially a best-of-three series.
Nashville had won all three meetings in Dallas this season before surrendering four first-period goals on Wednesday to level the series at two games apiece. "We would've loved to go up 3-1, didn't happen," Predators forward Nick Bonino said. "Everyone on this team has been in a 2-2 series before. We’ll go home and try to get Game 5.” No. 7 seed Dallas had converted on just 1 of 13 power-play chances in the first three games before scoring three times in the man advantage in the first-period outburst to heighten its chances of an upset. "We've got to keep getting better," coach Jim Montgomery warned. "They're going to be better so we've got to be better. It's two out of three now and it's probably the closest series that's out there in the first round."
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, TVAS, Sportsnet
ABOUT THE STARS: While Dallas typically rides its top line, the second unit led the way in Game 4 as rookie Roope Hintz scored twice and linemate Mats Zuccarello continued his strong postseason with a power-play tally. While Hintz ended a 14-game goal drought, Zuccarello netted his third goal of the series after appearing in only two games since he was acquired at the trade deadline. "I think there's another level in him," Montgomerie said of Zuccarello. "We're talking about a guy that's basically done nothing for two months and now he's already producing like this."
ABOUT THE PREDATORS: Dallas' power-play success in Game 4 magnified the shortcomings of Nashville, which had a league-worst success rate of 12.9 percent with the man advantage during the regular season and is 0-for-10 in the series. The Predators' No. 1 line of 34-goal scorer Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen also has failing to produce, combining for one goal and two points. Nashville could be getting some reinforcements back in the lineup as forwards Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds -- both listed as week-to-week -- practiced Friday.
1. Stars D John Klingberg had one assist in four games versus Nashville during the regular season but has five in the series.
2. Predators G Pekka Rinne was yanked in the opening period Wednesday in what was his 87th straight playoff start.
3. Stars G Ben Bishop has turned aside 129 of 137 shots in the series.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Stars 2