PANTHERS (7-5-5) at PREDATORS (12-5-2)
Season series: This is the first of two games between the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. The Predators went 1-0-1 against the Panthers in 2013-14, losing 5-4 in a shootout on Jan. 14. Predators defenseman Shea Weber had one goal and three assists in the two games. Florida forwards Brad Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau each had three points against Nashville last season.
Panthers team scope: Left wing Scottie Upshall sustained a lower-body injury on Tuesday and sat out Thursday in a 3-2 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported the injury was not serious and that Upshall, who ranks sixth on the Panthers in points, was walking without a problem. Until Thursday, Upshall was one of 11 Panthers who had played in every game this season. Center Nick Bjugstad has seven points in his past three games (four goals, three assists). This is the final game of a four-game road trip for Florida, all against Western Conference opponents. The Panthers are 2-1-0 so far and have lost once in regulation in their past five (3-1-1). Florida is 5-2-1 against Western Conference teams this season. The Panthers have scored one power-play goal in four straight games (4-for-16 during that span). Boyes leads the Panthers with three power-play goals. After a four-game points streak, rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad has not had a point in his past two games.
Predators team scope: Goalie Pekka Rinne is likely to start after sitting for the third time in 19 games this season in a 3-2 road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Weber has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past four games. Weber’s partner, Roman Josi, has two goals and five assists in his past seven games. Weber and Josi rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the NHL in time on ice per game at 26:55 and 26:32. Center Mike Ribeiro has points in 14 of his past 17 games (17 points overall). Nashville is 5-2-0 in its past seven games. This is the start of a four-game homestand for Nashville. The Predators are 2-2-0 against Eastern Conference opponents this season. Nashville scored a power-play goal for the second straight game in the loss at Ottawa. Prior to those two games, the Predators had one power-play goal in a span of four games (1-for-12).