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At the Rink: Predators at Islanders

by David Satriano

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Nashville Predators acquired forward Mike Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, but neither player has arrived.

Santorelli and Franson have been delayed because of weather-related issues but were expected to arrive on Long Island prior to the start of the Predators' game against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

"We don't know if they will be here or not," Predators coach Peter Laviolette, who coached the Islanders from 2001-03, said. "It's been a hard process to get them here just because of the weather. We'll be ready to go, regardless."

The Predators will likely use the same lineup that defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-1 on Tuesday. Goalie Pekka Rinne will start for Nashville. Rinne is 34-7-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

"They have a lot of veterans on their hockey club, and have had some good success and obviously starts in between the pipes with their goaltender," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

Nashville has won six games in a row, is 15-5-1 against the Eastern Conference and leads the NHL in points.

"When you look at their roster, they have had contributions from everybody," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "They've added some very good offensive players up front that have scored some goals.

"I think it's no secret how deep they are on the back end, where they have some all-world all-class players. And their goaltender has been phenomenal this year, so I think those are the things that you look at and know what they contribute."

The Islanders lead the Metropolitan Division by four points ahead of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and are one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

"They're doing good this year, they are a good team," New York defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "And we are one of the best teams in our conference, too, so it will be a good test for both teams. It'll be a fun game tonight."

Predators forward Mike Fisher is aware of how well the Islanders play at home. They are 20-7-0 at Nassau Coliseum.

"They are a great team," Fisher said. "They have a great lineup and have been playing good hockey. They are good in this building and we need to have our A-game."

The Islanders are coming off a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in which Chad Johnson made 37 saves in his 16th game of the season. Jaroslav Halak, who's played in 43, will start Thursday.

"Obviously both guys have been there for us, but I'm sure Jaro … he wants to win hockey games," Capuano said. "When he sees a guy like [Johnson] that hasn't played go in there and play the way that he's played … they want to see each other do well."

Here are the projected lineups:

PREDATORS

Colin WilsonMike RibeiroJames Neal

Matt CullenMike FisherCraig Smith

Filip ForsbergCalle JarnkrokTaylor Beck

Eric NystromPaul GaustadGabriel Bourque

Roman JosiShea Weber

Mattias EkholmSeth Jones

Victor Bartley- Anthony Bitetto

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli

Injured: Anton Volchenkov (lower body), Ryan Ellis (lower body)

ISLANDERS

Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey

Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Nikolay Kulemin - Brock Nelson - Michael Grabner

Matt Martin - Colin McDonald - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Lubomir Visnovsky - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Calvin de Haan

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Matt Donovan, Brian Strait

Injured: Casey Cizikas (lower body), Kyle Okposo (upper body), Eric Boulton (lower body)

Status report: Capuano said Visnovsky will be in the lineup but hadn't decided which defenseman he will replace. … Predators forward Viktor Stalberg was sent to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, likely to make room for the Predators' new additions.

Who's hot: Lee has four goals and nine points in six games. … Tavares has goals in three straight games, and has seven points during that span (four goals, three assists). … Rinne is 15-1-1 and has allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of his in his past 17 decisions. …Weber has two goals and six points in three games.

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