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Preview: Predators at Ducks

Ryan Ellis returns for Nashville; Anaheim vying for second place in Pacific Division

by Dan Arritt / Correspondent

PREDATORS (32-24-9) at DUCKS (33-22-10)



Predators team scope

Defenseman Ryan Ellis will return to the lineup for the Nashville Predators after missing a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. Ellis injured his knee in a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. "We understand what he brings to our team and every night he's one of our best players," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "Whenever we see him go down and he misses games, we can feel it, but it seems he just keeps finding ways to get back in the lineup." The Predators have allowed a goal late in the third period each of their past two games, giving up the game-winner with nine seconds left against the Canadiens and the go-ahead goal with 1:05 left against the Blackhawks. "Inside of those two games, I thought we played real good hockey games," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Right now, when you're sitting here in a position looking for points, we need to do a better job closing out those games." Nashville holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, four points ahead of the St. Louis Blues and five ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. "I think any coach that says he doesn't check the scores of the games each night is lying," Laviolette said. "I don't check the scores."


Ducks team scope

The Anaheim Ducks are two points behind the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division. They missed a chance to move closer to the division-leading San Jose Sharks when they lost 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. "We play well when we get the first goal, or when we're pretty focused and not taking too many penalties or being weak defensively," said forward Rickard Rakell, whose 26 goals lead Anaheim. "For now, we just have to move forward and take these [17] games that are left and try to treat them like they're playoff games because it's getting tight in the standings and we really have to put some wins together." The Ducks have alternated wins and losses in their past 11 games, and haven't won two in a row since Jan. 17-19. "We see teams winning six, seven in a row," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "It puts pressure on you to start winning."


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Wilson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Craig Smith -- Mike Fisher -- Austin Watson

Harry Zolnierczyk -- Vernon Fiddler -- Cody McLeod

Ryan Ellis -- Roman Josi

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Colton Sissons, Kevin Fiala, Anthony Bitetto

Injured: PA Parenteau (finger)


Ducks projected lineup

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Eaves -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Ondrej Kase

Nick Ritchie -- Rickard Rakell -- Corey Perry

Logan Shaw -- Nate Thompson -- Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler -- Kevin Bieksa

Hampus Lindholm -- Josh Manson

Sami Vatanen -- Brandon Montour

Jonathan Bernier

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Jared Boll

Injured: John Gibson (muscle strain), Simon Despres (upper body), Clayton Stoner (lower body)


Status report

Bernier will start his sixth consecutive game in place of Gibson. He will be playing his 14th game against Nashville, his most against any NHL team. Bernier is 8-4-0 against the Predators, the eight wins his highest total against any team.


Who's hot

Forsberg has 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in the past eight games. Josi has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in the past 13 games. Subban has 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in the past 10 games. Johansen has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in the past seven games. ... Getzlaf has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the past nine games.

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