The Stars ride a four-game win streak and six-game point streak into Music City to take on their rivals, the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. This is the final game of their current three-game road trip (2-0-0). Dallas currently holds a one-point lead over Nashville in the Central Division standings.
This is the fourth and final game of the season between the Stars and Preds, and the second meeting in Nashville over the past 12 days. Dallas is 1-1-1, its lone victory coming on Feb. 9 at home.
Stars Are Sticking To Their Guns
Dallas is not going to change their lineup tonight and why would they? Other than allowing two 6 on 5 goals to make the game tighter than necessary, the Stars played a solid overall game in their 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday [March 6].
“We played really well, simple as that. Specialty teams were really good, and we got the timely saves and the timely goals,” Rick Bowness said.
There are two factors that stick out here. First, Jake Oettinger will get his 13th start over the last 15 games for Dallas, the heaviest workload since Ben Bishop during the 2017-18 season. Over that time, Oettinger has played spectacularly, recording a 9-2-1 record, 2.05 goals-against average, and .934 save percentage.
“It’s a lot, but it’s also fun,” Rick Bowness said of Oettinger’s development. “It’s all part of the experience and you’ve got to go through it at least once. This is a great time for him, and he’s earned the right to be here. His character, he’s a real pro, a mature, mature kid.”
Second, this unfortunately means that Miro Heiskanen will miss his third straight game due to a non-COVID-related illness. The 22-year-old defenseman skated this morning and is expected to return on Saturday when the Stars host the New York Rangers.
“Good to see him back on the ice,” Bowness said. “He’s still weak, pale. But he’s back on the ice, so he’ll play Saturday.”
Predators Scouting Report
Nashville is coming off an 8-0 whooping of the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and begins a three-game homestand tonight against Dallas. The usual list of names have led the Preds all season and have continued to play well lately.
Roman Josi leads the club with 45 assists and 59 points, followed by Matt Duchene with 50 points (27G,23A) and Filip Forsberg with 46 points (27A,19A).
“[Games like this] are the easiest ones to play, because there’s no secret to what it means,” Preds forward Matt Duchene said following Monday’s practice in Nashville. “It’s an exciting week for us… We want to climb the ladder here and make sure that we clinch [a playoff spot] and we put ourselves in a good spot before the last few games of the season, and that’s always stressful. So, tomorrow’s a big game. It’s just a huge game all around, and it always seems like we play these guys in the biggest games of the year. They’ve done a great job getting to this point, because they were down the standings a bit there, and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
For Dallas, the approach is the same. There is simply no way of hiding the importance of these games and the physicality and intensity will certainly match that.
“You tell [the players], you better be ready because they’re going to come hard,” Bowness said. “They’re going to come, so let’s be ready for it.'”
- Miro Heiskanen will miss his third straight game with a non-COVID-related illness. He is expected to return Saturday against the New York Rangers
- Marian Studenic has been loaned to the Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment
He Said It
“He’s using his size,” Bowness said of the 6-6 Tufte remaining in the lineup. “We need that size on the wings. Going to the net, he had a beautiful goal, but he finished his checks. He did the job we need him to do, using that size.”
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!