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Preview: Flames at Predators

Nashville can cut Calgary lead to one point in wild-card race with win

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

FLAMES (41-28-4) at PREDATORS (36-25-11)

8 p.m. ET; SNF, FS-TN, NHL.TV


Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, three points ahead of the Nashville Predators. Calgary, which is 12-2-0 in its past 14 games, is three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division and one point behind the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames, Ducks and Oilers each have nine games remaining. Goaltender Chad Johnson will start and expects a playoff atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena. "It's going to be a good test for us," Johnson said. "They're a couple points back from us. Obviously we've had some pretty wild games here with these guys in the last little bit, so it should be the same sort of thing. Good atmosphere, and it's going to be pretty intense." Forward Micheal Ferland will return after missing two games with symptoms of the mumps. He took part in the morning skate Thursday and said he is symptom-free. "I felt good," he said. "I skated back in Calgary. I feel fine. I wasn't sick, I wasn't feverish, so that's why I wasn't sure if it was mumps or not. We're still waiting to see what it really was."


Predators team scope

The Predators hold the second wild card in the Western Conference and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Central Division; the Blues have four more regulation/overtime wins (ROW). With a win Thursday, Nashville can move to within one point of Calgary for the first wild card. Center Mike Fisher (undisclosed) did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday, and did not participate in the morning skate Thursday after not playing in the final 6:57 of a 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. There was no update on Fisher's status. The Predators are 4-1-0 in their past five games and have won five of their past six at home. "I don't think we should do anything different," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "The way we're playing right now and the games where we've really stuck to the system and played our game, I think we've been really successful. Just focus on that and don't get too far ahead of ourselves … just because it's going well right now. We've just got to stay grounded and work hard every day and do all of the little things within our system, and I think it suits us well." 


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland

Sam Bennett -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg -- Matt Stajan -- Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma -- Freddie Hamilton -- Alex Chiasson

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Michael Stone

Matt Bartkowski -- Deryk Engelland

Chad Johnson

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Rasmus Andersson, Garnet Hathaway, Curtis Lazar, Dennis Wideman

Injured: Ladislav Smid (neck)

Suspended: Matthew Tkachuk


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Colin Wilson -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, PA Parenteau, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Mike Fisher (undisclosed), Miikka Salomaki (lower body)


Status report

Lazar is expected to be a healthy scratch with Ferland returning to the lineup. … The Predators held an optional morning skate. … Tkachuk will serve the final game of his two-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty on Sunday.


Who's hot

Gaudreau has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in his past 14 games. Monahan has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past nine games. … Forsberg has 18 points (13 goals, five assists) in his past 14 games. Arvidsson has six points (four goals, two assists) during a five-game point streak. Johansen has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in his past 14 games. Josi has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in his past 15 games.

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