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Friday, March 28th (All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (32-31-11) at Dallas Stars (34-27-11), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars will try to make up some ground in the Western Conference playoff race when they host the Nashville Predators in Friday's battle at American Airlines Center.
Dallas enters Friday five points behind Phoenix for the second wild card in the West. The Stars, however, hold two games in hand over the Coyotes, who are idle Friday before hosting Minnesota on Saturday.
The Stars have struggled down the stretch so far, losing five of their last seven games. The recent funk obviously hasn't helped the club's chances of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
After winning two straight on the heels of an 0-4-0 stretch, the Stars dropped back into the regulation loss column in Tuesday's road test against Chicago. Duncan Keith netted the deciding goal late in the second period and Marian Hossa added an empty-net insurance marker to lift the Blackhawks to a 4-2 decision over Dallas at United Center.
Ryan Garbutt registered both goals for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen was saddled with the loss despite making 38 saves.
"It's that time of year where it doesn't really matter if you had your chances," Garbutt said. "At the end of the day you have to get the two points so we gotta make sure we come back hard next game here."
Dallas forward Tyler Seguin extended his point streak to 10 games with an assist. Seguin has seven goals and 10 helpers during the streak, which is tied with Tampa Bay's Valtteri Filppula for the longest current run in the NHL.
After tonight's home tilt, the Stars will head out on a crucial five-game road trip. The swing begins Saturday when Dallas visits the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues.
The Stars are 20-10-7 on home ice this season compared to a 14-17-4 mark on the road.
Nashville, meanwhile, heads into Friday's game four points behind Dallas and trails Phoenix by nine for the last playoff berth.
The Predators avoided the longest home losing streak in franchise history with a 6-1 rout of the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Nashville had gone 0-5-1 at Bridgestone Arena to match the team-record slide, but rode a four-goal first period to a third win in their last four games overall.
Shea Weber scored twice, while rookies Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons each potted their first NHL goal. Carter Hutton picked up the win with 32 saves.
"We've always been a team in the past that takes pride in winning at home and we haven't done that lately. We need to change that," Weber said.
Weber has 20 goals this season, tying him with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien for the most tallies by a defenseman.
The Preds will try for a third straight road victory on Friday and are 16-14-6 as the visiting team this season.
Nashville has claimed two of three meetings against the Stars so far this season and the Preds have claimed six of eight in the series overall. Dallas, however, has won three of the last five encounters in Big D and recorded a 4-1 triumph when the clubs last met at American Airlines Center on Dec. 27.
The clubs will complete the season series when Dallas hosts the Preds again on April 8.
Stars forward Erik Cole has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Cole is third on the team with 16 goals this season and he has eight goals and four assists in 17 career games against Nashville.
03/28 10:46:35 ET