NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Nashville Predators host the Dallas Stars at the Bridgestone Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The Nashville Predators typically don’t have one or two big-name skilled forwards leading the way, but they’ve generated deceptively good offensive numbers in past years courtesy of a balanced attack.
That hasn’t been the case this season. You could argue that they’re still getting goals from a lot of different players, but not at an adequate pace.
Nashville is the only team in the NHL to be averaging less than two goals per game and they’ve been shutout in each of its last two contests. The Dallas Stars can’t relate to those kinds of problems.
Dallas’ top two lines are filled with significant offensive threats, but none has been more dangerous lately than 23-year-old Jamie Benn. He’s one of the league’s hottest players with six goals and 12 points in his last nine games.
For the Stars the big x-factor is their goaltending — which is exactly what the Predators should want to hear right now.
Number one goalie Kari Lehtonen is questionable with a groin injury, so 29-year-old netminder Cristopher Nilstorp will probably start in just his fifth NHL game, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika.
Nilstorp kicked out 31 of 32 San Jose Sharks shots to earn his first career victory on Saturday, but he surrendered four goals in each of his previous two contests.
Only two points separate these two squads as they fight for ground in the NHL playoff race. The battle for the fourth to eighth seeds in the Western Conference figures to be particularly close this season, so the points Nashville and Dallas are fighting for tonight could prove to be critical.
Probable goaltenders: DAL – Nilstorp (1-3-0, 2.60 GAA, .913 SV%) | NSH – Pekka Rinne (7-5-4, 1.77 GAA, .931 SV%)
Top scorers: DAL – Benn and Jaromir Jagr both have 13 points, but Benn has only played in 13 games to Jagr’s 17. | NSH – Colin Wilson (5-9-14, 19 GP)
Dallas – Forwards: Ray Whitney (foot) Defensemen: Aaron Rome (foot), Trevor Daley (neck) Goaltenders: Lehtonen (groin)
Nashville – Forwards: Paul Gaustad (upper body) Defensemen: Hal Gill (lower body)