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At the Rink: Predators at Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When the Nashville Predators play the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the standings will tell a tale of vastly different teams.

The Predators sit atop the Central Division with a 16-5-2 record while the Hurricanes are seventh in the Metropolitan Division at 7-13-3. Their fortunes could not be much different, but Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said overall records don't mean much.

"Every game you get into, a coach nowadays, maybe in every locker room, is giving a speech that sounds something like this: 'If you're not ready to work hard tonight, you'll end up not liking the results,'" Laviolette said.

Riding a four-game winning streak, Laviolette expects the game against Carolina to be no different than one between two division leaders.

"There are no easy nights. I know everyone says that. It's probably been said for a hundred years," he said. "Standings don't matter. Carolina is a proud team. They want to find themselves and get back in a playoff race. They're going to be ready to play."

The Hurricanes are sliding farther out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference. They've lost seven of nine games and enter the game Tuesday nine points behind the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division and could be headed toward a sixth straight season of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Not there yet, but you don't want to fall much further behind," coach Bill Peters said. "It's already a big enough hole. We will just take this four-game homestand and reassess things after that. We've been in a lot of one-goal games; we've got to find a way to win them. We're looking for just one or two plays here or there."

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal

Colin Wilson - Calle Jarnkrok - Craig Smith

Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Olli Jokinen

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Taylor Beck

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Gabriel Bourque, Victor Bartley

Injured: Derek Roy (upper body)


Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Andrej Nestrasil

Zach Boychuk - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Tim Gleason

Ron Hainsey - Michal Jordan

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Brad Malone

Injured: Jordan Staal (broken leg) Brett Bellemore (lower body)

Status report: Boychuk replaces Malone after being a healthy scratch the past two games. ... Roy will likely miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Who's hot: Faulk was second in scoring among NHL defenseman in November with three goals and 13 points. ... Ward had a 2.01 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in 12 November starts (7-5-0). ... Rask has three assists in his past two games. ... Rinne had a 1.70 goals-against average and a League-best 10 wins in November.

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