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Predators-Stars Preview

While there may be other scenarios in which they can reach their goal, the Dallas Stars are only focused on taking care of their own business during a critical season finale.

The surging Stars look to lock up their first division title in 10 years and home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs on Saturday night against the visiting Nashville Predators, who are locked into the West's first wild-card spot.

Dallas (49-23-9) has played its way into a tie atop the conference while outscoring opponents 35-20 over an 8-2-0 stretch. The club had a chance to clinch its first division title since 2005-06 on Thursday with a home win over Colorado and a St. Louis regulation loss to Chicago.

The Stars did their part with a 4-2 victory, but the Blues beat the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.

Dallas and St. Louis have 107 points apiece, though the Blues would have to finish in front because the Stars own the tiebreaker based on regulation plus overtime wins (47-44). The only scenario the Stars are concerned with is the one where they take first place with a victory.

"We've got one more tough game and the game is going to mean a lot to us," coach Lindy Ruff told the team's official website. "It's an opportunity to win the (Central) division, win the conference. I think it's something that we've worked hard for all year long."

Jamie Benn has played a key role in the Stars' surge with five goals during a five-game home winning streak. The captain has nine goals and eight assists over his last 15 overall.

He also has six goals and four assists in his past five matchups with the Predators (41-26-14).

Dallas hopes to get Jason Spezza back from an illness. The team's third-leading scorer with 60 points, Spezza has two goals and two assists in his last three games against Nashville.

The Stars, who also have been without second-leading scorer Tyler Sequin for the last nine games, seek their fourth straight win and 26th in 35 all-time home meetings with the Predators. Benn led the way with two goals March 29 when host Dallas took a 3-1 season series lead with a 5-2 victory.

Though they're locked into a first-round matchup with Los Angeles or Anaheim, the Predators hope to keep playing well heading into the postseason. They bounced back from a four-game slide by beating Colorado 4-3 on Tuesday and Arizona 3-2 in OT on Thursday.

"We're making progress and we're playing ... one of the top teams in our division, so it will be a tough test for us," defenseman Shea Weber told the Predators' official website.

Weber is one power-play goal away from setting the franchise's single-season record with 15, but the Stars have killed 46 of 48 penalties over their last 16 games. He scored once with the man advantage and added two assists in a 5-3 home win over Dallas on March 1.

Filip Forsberg has a goal and an assist in each of the last two games, leaving him one goal shy of setting the team's single-season record. He has 33 to match Jason Arnott's total from 2008-09.

"Shea's been a force for the power play all year long with his shot. Filip's been a really strong player for us especially in the second half of the season," coach Peter Laviolette said.

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