Stars-Predators Preview

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Predators hope left winger Filip Forsberg plays down the stretch the way he has been the past few games.

That way the fun - and the wins - will continue in Nashville.

The surging Predators hope Forsberg can continue his torrid pace Tuesday night when they host the Dallas Stars.

Forsberg was named the first star of the week Monday by the NHL after he became the first player since 1986-87 with two natural hat tricks in three or fewer games. Forsberg had six goals and an assist last week as the Predators won four straight games.

''It's always good to score goals,'' Forsberg said after practice. ''I mean a hat trick is obviously pretty special. To get two in a short period of time is probably something I never thought was going to happen. It's been a lot of fun these past few days. I've got to keep it going.''

Forsberg became the first player in Nashville franchise history with two hat tricks in a single season Saturday in a 5-0 win against St. Louis, and he set a very high standard after his first came on Feb. 23 in a 3-2 win at Toronto. The feat hadn't been done in the NHL since November 1986.

That's when Petri Skriko did it in back-to-back games for Vancouver against Calgary on Nov. 18 and Nov. 21 against the Rangers.

Forsberg's hat tricks capped an amazing February for the 21-year-old from Ostervala, Sweden. He set a franchise record with 12 goals in 11 games in February, the most goals scored in a single month. That tied Alex Ovechkin of Washington and Boston's Brad Marchand for most goals in the league during February.

He already has tied his previous career best of 26 goals set last season, and he is seven goals from the franchise record of 33 with 19 games left.

''Forsberg seems to score on every shot this month,'' teammate Mike Fisher said.

It's a big difference from how Forsberg started the season. He scored only three goals through the first 23 games. Lately, he's been working on the second line with veteran center Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith. As a result, Forsberg now leads Nashville in both goals and points (46) through 63 games.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said that line is playing really well with a lot of speed and confidence, which is creating chances in the offensive zone for Forsberg to shoot. Laviolette also noted Ribeiro is a tremendous playmaker whose pass on the power play Saturday against St. Louis set up Forsberg's third goal.

''That's when Filip can really shine,'' Laviolette said. When he gets the puck in the situation like he did, to bury that one on the power play, he has the skill level to do it.''

Combined with goalie Pekka Rinne playing like the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist he is, the Predators enter this contest on a nine-game point streak (6-0-3). They have won four straight to match a season high and currently hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a game in hand and a five-point lead over Colorado.

''He's looked unbelievable and made some great plays,'' Fisher said of Forsberg. ''I would say just overall playing smarter, taking advantage of his chances and you know pretty impressive week he had, month really. Hopefully, he can keep that going and stay hot and continue.

''It's really fun to watch as a teammate.''

Predators captain Shea Weber could return after missing three games with a lower-body injury. Weber was a full participant in practice Monday, the first time he'd taken the ice with the full team since Feb. 23.

"I feel good," Weber told the team's official website Monday. "It's hard, you don't like to sit out. You feel like you're letting your teammates down, so it's not easy."

The Stars got a late goal from Vernon Fiddler before falling 3-2 in overtime to Detroit on Monday, their third straight loss.

All three of those defeats came at home, but now Dallas (38-19-7) plays three of its next four on the road where it's averaged 3.6 goals during a 6-1-1 surge. Included in that stretch is a 3-2 overtime victory at Nashville on Feb. 15.

Kari Lehtonen figures to be in net after Antti Niemi made 26 saves Monday. Lehtonen is 0-3-1 with a 3.82 goals-against average in his last four starts, and has the same record with a 3.04 GAA his past four in Nashville.

The Stars have won four in a row against the Predators, with Jamie Benn tallying four goals and seven points in the last three meetings.

This game could mark the Stars debut of defenseman Kris Russell, who was acquired from Calgary on Monday for defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional 2016 second-round pick.

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