Preview: Predators at Stars
The top team in each conference already has been ushered out of the opening round of the playoffs and the No. 2 seed in the West is trying to avoid a similar fate in its first-round series. The Central Division champion Nashville Predators are wobbly after suffering back-to-back losses and need a victory in Game 6 at the Dallas Stars on Monday night to stave off elimination.
The Predators have won three times in Dallas this season, including a 3-2 victory in Game 3, but they have been burned for 10 goals in the past two defeats. "We've played a lot of playoff games, we've been put in these situations and positions before," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said after Saturday's 5-3 setback at home. "They've answered the bell, they'll answer the bell in Game 6 and we'll bring it back here - but this group's got to go and do it." The Stars, in the playoffs for only the third time in 11 seasons, have scored at least five goals in consecutive games for the first time this season. "I think we keep getting better, and we have to keep getting better," Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said. "The next one's the hardest one because it's the potential to end someone's season. That's the challenge in front of us now."
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, Sportsnet1, TVAS2, FS Tennessee (Nashville), FS Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS: The good news for Nashville: Rocco Grimaldi, despite being a Game 1 scratch, has scored in three of his four games. The bad news: The 5-foot-6 Grimaldi leads the team in goals while the No. 1 line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson has combined for four points in the series after amassing 76 goals during the regular season -- including a team-high 34 by Arvidsson, who has been held off the scoresheet by Dallas. "The bottom line is we're not playing good enough and we need to raise our level - everybody," goaltender Pekka Rinne said.
ABOUT THE STARS: While Dallas rode the stellar goaltending of Ben Bishop and a defense that permitted the second-fewest goals during the regular season to the first wild card, the top line of Tyler Seguin, captain Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov has tilted the momentum. The trio accounted for seven of its 16 points and 16 shots on goal in Game 5 while matched up against Nashville's No. 1 unit. "Our line's all about work," Seguin said. "It's about will. Obviously, we have the skill and the talent there. But when we're working hard, we're happy to go up against anybody."
1. Bishop, named a Vezina Trophy finalist on Saturday, has not allowed more than three goals in his last 17 appearances.
2. Arvidsson did not go more than three games in a row without a point during the regular season.
3. Benn had three assists in Game 5 to take over the team lead with six points.
PREDICTION: Stars 3, Predators 2