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Goaltender Dubnyk ready for first start with Predators

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE -- Four days after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers, goaltender Devan Dubnyk is set to make his first start with the Nashville Predators on Saturday as they host the Colorado Avalanche.

With the trade, which sent forward Matt Hendricks to the Oilers, Dubnyk will go from playing behind one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL to one that traditionally plays with much more of a defensive emphasis. Nashville entered play Saturday ranked 20th in the League in goals-against per game at 2.88 but has had one of the worst team save percentages in the League. That issue and the hip infection that has kept top goaltender Pekka Rinne out of the lineup for much of the season is what compelled the Predators to trade for Dubnyk.

"They're real structured," said Dubnyk, who backed up Carter Hutton in a 4-3 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. "It was fun to sit and just kind of be a part of it in Philly. I thought we played a great game there. Just the energy level and the way guys work here is contagious and is fun to be a part of."

Predators coach Barry Trotz mentioned that defenseman Kevin Klein, who sat out Nashville's game Thursday with the flu, would be a game-time decision depending on his energy level.

Avalanche center Paul Stastny will return to the lineup after missing the past two games with a leg injury. On a three-game winning streak, the Avalanche won their two games without Stastny, 3-2 against the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime on Tuesday and 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout on Thursday.

Stastny ranks third on the team with 34 points.

"He's an important player on our team," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said of Stastny. "Before his injury he was playing really good with [Gabriel Landeskog] and Nathan [MacKinnon]. It's good to have him back. At the same time it gave opportunity to other guys to do well."

With forward PA Parenteau back after missing the past nine games with a knee injury and defenseman Nate Guenin returning after missing the past six with an ankle injury, Colorado is getting healthy as they begin a stretch in which they play four of their next five games on the road.

"We're fortunate that we're winning and I'm getting back," Stastny said. "The next couple of games we have a couple of other guys getting back so I think we're finally getting fully healthy and I think it's going to be an extra push for us."

Here are the projected lineups for the Predators and Avalanche:


Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - Nathan MacKinnon

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Marc-Andre Cliche - Brad Malone

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit - Nick Holden

Ryan Wilson - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Karl Stollery

Injured: Alex Tanguay (knee), Cory Sarich (back)


Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist

Nick Spaling - David Legwand - Craig Smith

Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Viktor Stalberg

Eric Nystrom - Matt Cullen - Gabriel Bourque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Ryan Ellis - Kevin Klein

Seth Jones - Mattias Ekholm

Devan Dubnyk

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Victor Bartley

Injured: Pekka Rinne (hip)

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