Predators seek to get on track against Stars

A small slump has left the Predators closer to the bottom seeds in the Western Conference than one of the top four. Nashville tries to avoid a fifth straight road loss this evening as it takes on the Dallas Stars.

The Predators have lost four of five overall and four in a row on the road, giving them 72 points on the season. That has them fifth overall in the West, seven back of the fourth-place Blues and only three up on the Blackhawks.

Nashville seemed to be on its way to earning at least a point on Friday in Detroit, but instead became the 22nd straight opponent to lose to the Red Wings in Motown. The Preds dropped a 2-1 game when the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk broke free and scored with less than six seconds left in regulation.

Nick Spaling tallied a goal and Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for the Predators.

"We should've had a point tonight," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "We were [six] seconds away from having a point."

The Preds' disappointing loss came on the same day they acquired defenseman Hal Gill and a draft pick from the Canadiens for forwards Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney and a second-round pick. Gill is likely to make his debut with Nashville this evening.

"Hal Gill brings our team a number of elements -- size, penalty-killing ability, depth on defense and playoff experience," said Predators general manager David Poile. "He has won a Stanley Cup and played a combined 69 playoff games over the last four years, experience that significantly benefits our team."

Dallas has so far taken the opposite approach, dealing defenseman and pending free agent Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia on Thursday despite entering play tonight tied for 10th in the West and three points out of a playoff spot.

The Stars picked up a key point last night, falling 2-1 to the hosting Coyotes in overtime. Radim Vrbata scored the winner 1:15 into the extra frame.

Michael Ryder pushed his point streak to five straight games with a goal and Kari Lehtonen made 31 saves for the Stars, 1-2-2 over their last five games.

"We played hard but we need results," Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "It's a results-based business and we need results. We need to capitalize and we can't make a mistake at the end to give away a point."

Dallas put forth a solid effort despite playing without one of its top offensive scorers in Jamie Benn, who suffered a leg laceration on Thursday versus the Flames. Gulutzan said after that contest that Benn was day-to-day and could return tonight.

Defenseman Sheldon Souray remains sidelined with a foot ailment.

The Stars have outscored the Predators 10-4 in winning a pair of meetings already this season. That includes a 6-3 win when the clubs met in Dallas on Dec. 23, with Ryder notching a goal and two assists.

The Stars have won two straight and five of the past seven meetings both overall and in Dallas.