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Preds aim to extend win streak against Stars

The Nashville Predators will take aim at a fourth consecutive victory and will also try to deliver some payback to the Dallas Stars, as the clubs meet tonight at Bridgestone Arena in the Music City.

The Predators have won three in a row and nine of their last 12 games, but one of Nashville's losses during that stretch came on Dec. 23 in Dallas. The Stars recorded a 6-3 victory, as Michael Ryder had a goal and two assists to lead the home club.

Dallas has taken three of four from the Predators dating back to last season, but Nashville has posted four victories in its last six home tests against the Stars.

Tonight's game is also an important battle in the Western Conference playoff race, as Nashville is currently among the playoff seeds with 46 points and Dallas is on the outside looking in with 43.

The Preds last played on Sunday, when they notched a 5-3 win over Calgary to begin a three-game homestand. Sergei Kostitsyn recorded his first career hat trick to lead Nashville to the win and help the club improve to 11-6-3 at Bridgestone Arena this year.

Kostitsyn ended a five-game goal-scoring drought and now has eight goals on the season.

"It was big for him to get his first hat trick," Predators forward Patric Hornqvist said about Kostitsyn. "He had a big game for us and that was huge for us tonight."

Kevin Klein and Matt Halischuk also lit the lamp for the Predators, while Pekka Rinne made 17 saves for the win.

Shea Weber has sat out the last four games with a concussion and is not expected to play tonight. However, Nashville's star defenseman returned to practice on Tuesday and could be nearing a return to the ice. Despite the missed time, Weber is still leading Nashville in assists (21) and points (29) this season.

Preds forward Colin Wilson has sat out the last two games with an upper body injury and is questionable for tonight.

Dallas enters tonight having lost three of four games and is coming off Tuesday's 5-4 regulation setback against visiting Detroit. The Stars mounted a few valiant comeback attempts after falling behind 3-1 in the first, but were never able to tie the game.

Ryder scored twice and had an assist, Jamie Benn added a goal and two helpers while Loui Eriksson contributed a tally and an assist for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen was charged with five goals on 31 shots in the loss.

"It shows our character that we keep battling, all the way to the end," said Benn. "We just ran out of time before we could tie things up."

The loss to Detroit ended a three-game homestand for the Stars, who play three of their next four tests on the road. Dallas, which will host Edmonton on Saturday before heading out for games in Anaheim and Los Angeles, is 9-9-0 as the guest this season.

Stars defenseman Philip Larsen sat out Tuesday's game with a concussion and is not expected to play tonight.