The Stars are smack-dab in the middle of the league in goals scored at 2.75 per game. So, when a team that has found success scoring, especially on the power play faces a team that has been dead last for most of the season in the Nashville Predators (averaging 2.08 goals per game), you would think that is the recipe for success.
Honestly, how many of us thought the same exact thing on Feb. 25th when Dallas went to Nashville?
Yeah, me too. Then they give up five to the worst scoring team and lost in OT after completely dominating the game for the first half then succumbing to ill-advised penalties and two misconducts in a row.
Tuesday night, the Stars open up a 4-game home stand as the Preds embark on a 5-game road trip.
As much of the season has been, the Stars come into tonight’s game 5-4-1 over their last 10, dropping their most recent to the Phoenix Coyotes in a lack-luster effort out in the desert. Meanwhile, Nashville is going to be well rested, having last played at home on Saturday when they lost to the Minnesota Wild in overtime, 2-1.
The key to this game for Dallas will be to play their style of game. Nashville and Dallas have produced some of the more exciting games between two teams that did not currently reside in the same division, which should make realignment next season more exciting. The first meeting a few weeks ago was no different as the Stars held a 4-2 lead half way through the 2nd period and then Eric Nystrom and Vern Fiddler put the Preds on a 5-on-3 power play thanks to being suckered into taking two instigating penalties. The resulting 5-on-3 brought Nashville within one and from there, they rode the momentum to the tying and ultimately, game winning goal in overtime.
In fact, in a complete turnaround from last year, the Stars may want to look into drawing penalties of their own. After finishing dead last in the league with the man advantage last year at 13%, the Stars find themselves 11th at 19.5%, thanks in large part to the free agent acquisition of future hall-of-famer, Jaromir Jagr. Dallas should be generally okay if they find themselves a man down as they have the 8th best penalty kill where Nashville finds themselves ranked 19th when a man-up.
The area where the Stars will need to excel is 5-on-5. Dallas is 18th in the league in 5-on-5 goal differential where Nashville is 16th. However, the most glaring note is Predator’s goalie, Pekka Rinne is currently riding a 125-minute shutout streak when both sides are even-strength. Special teams is where the Stars are going to have to win this game tonight, and the Preds are ripe for being picked off in an ugly, physical game.
Dallas has 8 power play goals in their last 7 games while Nashville has given up 10 goals in their last seven games when down a skater.
The Stars are 10th in the Western Conference with 26 points and are one spot above Nashville who is 11th by virtue of having 2 less wins than Dallas. At 26 points, Dallas is just 2 points out of the 8th spot, currently held by St. Louis and 4 points behind 4th place LA. The Stars find themselves a whopping 13 points behind division leader Anaheim, however, the Stars still have four remaining games against the Ducks, including their next game this Thursday and three in a row the first week of April.