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Preview: Predators at Jets

Nashville can clinch first wild card in Western Conference; Winnipeg looks to finish season with seven-game winning streak

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent

PREDATORS (41-28-12) at JETS (39-35-7) 

7 p.m. ET; CITY, FS-TN, NHL.TV


Predators team scope

The Nashville Predators can clinch the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win against the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion and the Calgary Flames losing against the San Jose Sharks in any fashion, or if the Predators get one point against the Jets and the Flames lose against the Sharks in regulation. The Predators and Flames are tied with 94 points; each team has one regular-season game remaining and Calgary has two more regulation/overtime wins. "We're going to play as hard as we can," center Mike Fisher said. "The only thing you can do in this situation is play hard. You're always playing to win. These games against Winnipeg are always physical and tight. We will be ready to go tonight." Fisher, the Nashville captain, did not play in a 7-3 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday but could play Saturday. Defenseman Ryan Ellis also missed that game, but took part in the optional morning skate Saturday. The Predators are 2-3-1 in their past six games after going 7-1-0 in their previous eight. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is expected to start but may not play the whole game, according to coach Peter Laviolette. Rinne is 6-2-1 with 16 goals against and one shutout in his past nine starts.


Jets team scope

The Winnipeg Jets will look to push their season-high winning streak to seven games and aim to close out their season on a high note. "We've been playing good hockey," defenseman Josh Morrissey said. "Obviously, it's a tough situation for us. I think everyone can be proud of how we've been battling here down the stretch in that tough situation when it's not a lot of fun knowing you're not in the playoffs. Tonight we want to come out with a big effort … we want to win our last game." Winnipeg, 9-2-0 in its past 11 games, wants to finish strong and have a good feeling to begin the offseason. "It's mostly just about showing the young guys that, regardless of the scenario, regardless of the situation, you come to the rink ready to work and prepared to play every single night," forward Blake Wheeler said. "You do that enough times, you're going to be playing in more playoff games hopefully sooner rather than later." Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will start and seek his third straight win. Forward Patrik Laine has 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) this season, three points behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews for the NHL rookie scoring lead.


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- James Neal

Viktor Arvidsson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Craig Smith

Kevin Fiala -- Colton Sissons -- PA Parenteau

Miikka Salomaki -- Austin Watson -- Harry Zolnierczyk

Roman Josi -- Matt Irwin

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Anthony Bitetto -- Brad Hunt

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Mike Fisher, Cody McLeod, Ryan Ellis, Colin Wilson, Vernon Fiddler

Injured: Yannick Weber (upper body)


Jets projected lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Brandon Tanev -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Kyle Connor -- Andrew Copp -- Chris Thorburn

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Julian Melchiori -- Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart -- Nelson Nogier

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Marko Dano, Nic Petan

Injured: Toby Enstrom (concussion), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body), Shawn Matthias (upper body), Paul Postma (lower body), Ben Chiarot (upper body)


Status report

Weber, who has missed seven games, participated in the morning skate. … Connor will play his first game since Nov. 29. He was sent to Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Dec. 9 and recalled Monday.


Who's hot 

Arvidsson has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in his past 14 games. … Smith has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his past nine games. … Perreault has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in his past 11 games. … Scheifele has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. … Wheeler has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in a seven-game point streak.

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