Stars Confident as They Make Final Push for Playoff Spot

Tuesday, 04.8.2014 / 12:50 PM CT / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Stars Confident as They Make Final Push for Playoff Spot
The Dallas Stars begin their final push for a playoff spot when they take on the Nashville Predators tonight at American Airlines Center.

The Dallas Stars begin their final push for a playoff spot when they take on the Nashville Predators tonight at American Airlines Center.

“We’ve been trying so hard from day one of training camp, and now it’s down to this last week,” said Stars forward Antoine Roussel. “We have to bear down, win tonight and go from there, win the next one and go from there. It’s one game at a time.”

The Stars have a one point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with four games remaining for both teams. The Stars are trying to secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

“There’ a positive mindset in this room,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We’re a confident group that we can get the job done here. We’re taking it one game at a time, we can’t be looking forward and we’ve got a big one tonight starting with Nashville.”

Tonight’s game will kick off a stretch of three straight at home for the Stars, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven games at the AAC and 8-1-1 over the last ten.

“I think our fans, playing in front of our fans, the energy in our building, we’ve played well here of late and played some real good hockey,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “If you asked me if I wanted to play at home or on the road, I’d pick home.”

It appears the Stars will go with the same lineup as last game. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice this morning, so it appears he’ll be making his tenth straight start in net for the Stars. The forward line combinations and defense pairs are expected to be the same.

Ray Whitney, who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury, did not skate this morning and remains out. Ruff said Whitney is day to day. Aaron Rome is available to play after missing time with a lower body injury, but he is expected to be a healthy scratch on defense along with Kevin Connauton.

Pekka Rinne is expected to start in goal for the Predators, who have won three straight and are 6-1-1 over their last eight games. The Predators are still alive in the playoff race, but are hanging on by a thread.

“Obviously this one is probably do-or-die for us. If we don’t win tonight, we can’t make the playoffs,” said Predators forward Patric Hornqvist. “I know our chances are really, really small, but as long as you have a chance you have to work. This group, they never quit working. We have to still work and do the right things out there, and as long as there’s a chance, we’re going to do that.”

Tuesday’s game

Who: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Channel guide)
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Erik ColeDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Patrik NemethSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

Predators projected lineup

Matt Cullen – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque – Calle Jarnkrok – Craig Smith
Nick Spaling – Colin Wilson – Viktor Stalberg
Rich Clune – Paul Gaustad – Eric Nystrom

Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Seth Jones – Victor Bartley
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Carter Hutton

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 78 47 22 9 224 193 103
3 STL 76 46 23 7 229 190 99
4 CHI 76 46 24 6 217 176 98
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 77 45 27 5 224 208 95
7 CGY 77 42 28 7 229 204 91
8 WPG 77 39 26 12 217 204 90
9 LAK 76 37 25 14 201 192 88
10 DAL 77 37 30 10 239 248 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 76 35 29 12 206 213 82
13 EDM 76 23 40 13 185 255 59
14 ARI 77 23 46 8 161 256 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 77 28 46 -6 74
T. Seguin 67 35 35 -4 70
J. Spezza 77 17 42 -3 59
J. Klingberg 60 11 27 3 38
C. Eakin 73 17 19 -5 36
T. Daley 63 16 20 -10 36
A. Goligoski 77 4 31 -2 35
A. Hemsky 71 11 21 -5 32
S. Horcoff 73 11 17 7 28
V. Fiddler 75 12 15 -5 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 34 16 10 .906 2.88
J. Enroth 14 26 2 .900 3.25
 
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