NASHVILLE -- In addition to franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne, center Nick Spaling was expected to return to the Nashville Predators lineup on Tuesday for the first time since Jan. 31, after suffering a lower-body injury.
When he was injured, Spaling had had three goals and three assists in his past seven games. Spaling's nine goals last season were tied for fourth on the team.
"Nick brings a pretty complete game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "[Spaling] was having a pretty solid offensive and defensive year. Obviously, he got hurt right before the Olympics. He was playing with a lot of confidence. He's a guy that has good instincts. He doesn't cheat on the ice. He plays the game 200 feet. … He will help the penalty kill, he'll help our depth, all those things."
Trotz did not say which forward would come out of the lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins to make room for Spaling. One possibility is Matt Cullen, who had been banged-up but Trotz said Cullen was "good to go."
Here are the projected lineups for the Penguins and Predators:
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Taylor Pyatt – Brandon Sutter – Tanner Glass
Craig Adams – Joe Vitale – Deryk Engelland
Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Rob Scuderi
Simon Despres – Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Chuck Kobasew
Injured: Kris Letang, Paul Martin
Gabriel Bourque – David Legwand – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Eric Nystrom – Nick Spaling - Viktor Stalberg
Rich Clune – Paul Gaustad – Simon Moser
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto – Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm – Seth Jones
Scratched: Devan Dubnyk, Matt Cullen, Victor Bartley