FLAMES (11-12-4) at PREDATORS (11-13-6)
TV: SNET-W, FS-TN
Last 10: Calgary 4-5-1; Nashville 2-7-1
Big story: The Predators and Flames both find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference, but the distance between them and the West's final postseason spot is far from insurmountable. That, along with the shortened season, makes virtually every game against another team outside the top eight a crucial opportunity for two potential points. When the Flames visit Music City on Thursday, it will be no different.
Flames: Calgary might have beat up Nashville in their first meeting last weekend, and that win might have come on the heels of a solid 5-2 win against Detroit two days earlier, but those nights have been few and far between lately. The Flames have won just two of their last six games as both the offense and goaltending have been wanting for consistency. Over a three-game losing streak earlier this month the Flames scored just three goals while giving up a total of 13 to the likes of Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Since then Calgary has actually started to light the lamp with regularity, scoring 14 times in its last three games, which should be a boon with Miikka Kiprusoff now healthy and playing well in his last two starts. Kiprusoff missed the Flames' 4-3 loss to Dallas in their last game on Monday so he could be home for the birth of his second child, but Kiprusoff has re-joined the team and is expected to start Thursday in Nashville.
Predators: Few teams could use a stay at home quite like the Predators. Nashville is generally accustomed to being in the thick of the West's postseason field at this time of year, but at the moment the Predators are on the outside looking in, and their performance on the road is a likely reason why. Nashville ended a five-game road trip with its fourth regulation loss in a row Tuesday night in Columbus. On the whole, the Predators are a disastrous 5-11-2 away from Bridgestone Arena this season.
At home, the story is quite different -- even if the sample size is smaller. The Predators are 6-2-4 in Nashville this season and the next month of their schedule, in which they'll play 11 of 14 games at home, couldn't have arrived soon enough. A simple change of venue probably isn't going to be a complete cure, however. Nashville, and in particular goalie Pekka Rinne, will need to shore up a defense that has given up 20 goals over its last four games.
Injury report: Nashville has lost multiple players to injury in the last month, including Scott Hannan, who is doubtful for Thursday with an upper-body injury. Patric Hornqvist (upper-body injury), Colin Wilson (upper-body injury), Paul Gaustad (upper-body injury) and Hal Gill (lower-body injury) have all recently landed on injured reserve. Calgary has had no recent injuries of note.
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