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Hornqvist back in Predators lineup

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE – Nashville Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist will return to the lineup Sunday against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

Hornqvist ranks fourth on the Predators in goals with nine in 41 games. As a net-front presence, he's also an integral part of the Predators' power play. Without Hornqvist, Nashville has not scored on its past five chances with the man advantage.

Overall, the Predators' power play, ranked seventh in the NHL, has struggled of late. Over the past six games, the unit has connected just once on 11 chances.

In a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Predators had a power play over the final 1:36 of overtime but could not convert. Predators coach Barry Trotz said at that late juncture in the game the ice was very choppy. As a result, the players had trouble controlling the puck, which allowed Senators' penalty killers to pressure the Predators and prevent them from getting off too many good chances.

With Hornqvist set to return, one candidate who could come out of the lineup is Gabriel Bourque. Bourque took two minor penalties in a 4-3 loss Thursday to the Anaheim Ducks, including one deep in the offensive zone that led to Anaheim's game-winning, power-play goal. Trotz said which forward comes out of the lineup for Hornqvist would be a game-time decision.

Trotz also said the decision as to whether defenseman Victor Bartley would return to the lineup in place of rookie Mattias Ekholm would be a game-time decision. Bartley has been a healthy scratch in 10 of the past 11 games. However, Ekholm made a costly turnover behind his own net that led to the Senators' only goal on Saturday.

In terms of Nashville's starting goalie, Trotz said he was "leaning" towards starting Marek Mazanec, who has started seven of the past eight games. Mazanec did not see a heavy load Saturday, stopping 20 of 21 shots.

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for Minnesota.

Here are the projected lineups:


Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist

Craig Smith - David Legwand - Nick Spaling

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Viktor Stalberg

Matt Hendricks - Matt Cullen - Rich Clune

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Ryan Ellis - Kevin Klein

Seth Jones - Victor Bartley

Marek Mazanec

Carter Hutton

Out: Gabriel Bourque, Mattias Ekholm


Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - Dany Heatley

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser

Marco Scandella - Jonathon Blum

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Mike Rupp, Keith Ballard

Injured: Zach Parise (foot), Mikko Koivu (ankle), Josh Harding (illness), Jared Spurgeon (foot)

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