The Nashville Predators weathered the onslaught of a desperate Dallas Stars team on Tuesday and walked away with two points in the standings and an unbelievable six-game winning streak. The Stars are still in town and will look for some redemption on Thursday.
Predators fans are scoreboard watching to see if Nashville can hold on to their spot at this point in the season. Their current winning streak and some luck from other teams are helping them tremendously.
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The Predators sit in the fourth spot in the Central Division, with the Blackhawks right at their back door. Both teams have 37 points in the standings, but the Predators hold the tie break due to more wins against Chicago.
The Stars are in the seventh spot in the standings and trail the Predators by seven points. Even with their four games in hand, time is slipping away from them. They are in a slump and are looking for any spark to get them out of it.
Struggling Stars Are Still Dangerous
The Stars controlled the tempo for most of the game on Tuesday and will ramp up their intensity on Thursday.
Dallas’ forecheck kept the Predators on their toes for the entire game on Tuesday, and their physicality was one of their biggest weapons. With playoff implications, Thursday’s game should prove to be even more exciting.
Goaltender Anton Khudobin made 23 saves on Tuesday and stopped many quality shots from the Predators. Khudobin’s GAA sits at 2.56 on the season with a .906 SV%. He will be looking for redemption on Thursday if he gets the call.
The normally dangerous Joe Pavelski was held to just two shots on Tuesday and scored no points in his last three games. The Predators have been bitten by him before and know how quickly his fortunes can change.
Dallas threw everything they had at the Predators on Tuesday but came up short in their overtime loss, picking up just one point. If they want to beat a red-hot Predators team, they will need to find a bit more and are more than capable of doing so.
The Nashville Predators Don’t Need To Change A Thing
While this improbable winning streak, the longest active streak in the NHL this season, is a little shocking, it should not surprise anyone. This Predators team is finally playing up to their potential and finding ways to win.
The defensive play in front of the Predators’ goaltenders had been missing for most of the season but not now, as evidenced by this streak. They do an excellent job of protecting the house, making Juuse Saros’ and Pekka Rinne’s job easier.
Saros, known for having a hot hand at opportune times, has been unstoppable. He will need to be on top of his game on Thursday as the Stars fight to break out of their slump.
All eyes are on the top line and the fourth line for the Predators and will be once again on Thursday.
The top line features “the Chosen One,” Eeli Tolvanen. All eyes are on Tolvanen to see what he will do next. He is on a six-game point streak and had the game-winner in overtime on Tuesday and will look to continue that streak.
The fourth line, aka the “Herd” line, consisting of Mathieu Olivier, Colton Sissons, and Yakov Trenin, may not be lighting up the score sheet, but their aggressive forecheck and their physical presence makes teams take notice, and rightfully so. The Predators will need them to counter the Stars’ aggressiveness.
The Predators will still be without Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Ellis, Mark Borowiecki, Brad Richardson, and Luca Sbisa. In a recent injury update, Nashville announced that all of these players are listed as week-to-week.
Nashville has done an excellent job of plugging the holes left by injured players with their younger teammates with outstanding results.
Line consistency has been another factor in this winning streak. The more time each line spends together, the better they seem to get. Very few adjustments, if any, need to be made by Head Coach John Hynes.
With the pressure mounting on the Stars to make a playoff push, the Predators will have to be at the top of their game.
The Predators’ fight to stay in the fourth playoff spot continues tonight. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT and will be televised on Bally Sports South. Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.