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At the Rink: Predators at Islanders

by David Satriano

NEW YORK -- The Nashville Predators are looking to start the season 4-0-0 for the first time in 10 seasons when they visit the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Thursday.

The Predators continue a three-game road trip after defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Tuesday.

"We kept most of our team from last year, added a few good additions, and they caught on quickly, which is great for our team because everybody seems to be in sync," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said.

Nashville has killed off nine of 10 shorthanded situations but may have a difficult task Thursday. The Islanders were 2-for-6 on their power play in a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

"They are a dangerous team," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "They are fast. When you see them play a team like Winnipeg and generate 40-plus shots and goals like that, it's not an easy thing to do.

"We've played a really good defensive game. Right now our goaltender has played really well. Defensively we have done a great job in front of him. Penalty kill's been real good, power play has been good."

The Islanders know they face a tough challenge but are hoping for back-to-back wins after their first victory of the season Monday.

"It starts in net with Pekka Rinne," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It's probably the best six solid core group of defenseman that we'll see as far as the back end. They are big and physical. It's a big test for our hockey club."

Rinne, who will make his fourth start, is 3-0-0.

"They have a world-class goalie and obviously had a good season last year, and are off to a good start this year," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. "We are going to get their best and we are looking to play our game and try and grind them out. They have a lot of defensemen who move the puck really well."

The Islanders opened the season with back-to-back games against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks before playing the Jets. Thursday will be their fourth consecutive game against a team that made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

"Tonight's going to be a tough test against a good team," Islanders captain John Tavares said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip Forsberg - Mike Fisher - James Neal

Colin Wilson - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Gabriel Bourque - Cody Hodgson - Calle Jarnkrok

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Austin Watson

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Barret Jackman - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: None

Scratched: Victor Bartley, Anthony Bitetto, Viktor Arvidsson


Anders Lee - John Tavares - Ryan Strome

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Brock Nelson

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Brian Strait - Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Injured: Jaroslav Halak (upper body), Thomas Hickey (upper body), Steve Bernier (lower body)

Scratched: Eric Boulton

Status report: The Islanders will use the same lineup from the win against the Jets, including Greiss in goal. "[Halak] is progressing real well, skated this morning again," Capuano said. "He is still day-to-day. We just want to make sure he is 100 percent."

Who's hot: Rinne has allowed two goals on 80 shots in three games (.975 save percentage). … Josi scored two goals against the Devils. … Tavares had three points in the win against the Jets.


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