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Preview: Blues at Predators

Nail Yakupov to replace Robby Fabbri for St. Louis; Mike Fisher may return to Nashville lineup

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUES (7-4-3) at PREDATORS (4-5-3)

8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-TN, NHL.TV

 

Blues team scope

Forward Nail Yakupov will return to the St. Louis Blues lineup Thursday after being a healthy scratch for three straight games, replacing Robby Fabbri on the third line alongside left wing Dmitrij Jaskin and center Jori Lehtera. Fabbri will be a healthy scratch. "It's a numbers game," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after St. Louis' optional morning skate Thursday. "We're not disappointed in Yak, but he needs to come in and he's going to get a real opportunity with good players, so this is a good chance for him." Yakupov has two goals and two assists in 11 games this season for the Blues, who acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 7 for forward prospect Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Goaltender Carter Hutton will start against his former team. Hutton signed with the Blues on July 1 after spending the previous three seasons with Nashville, and is looking forward to playing against Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, a close friend. "It's going to be great," Hutton said. "Obviously I wish he wasn't playing, I know how good he is. That's one of those things, it's great, just being able to play against a guy who I consider almost one of my mentors. We had a pretty close relationship here, and we still do." Forward Alexander Steen is one goal from reaching 200 in his NHL career.

 

Predators team scope

Predators captain Mike Fisher could return to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury. He participated in practice Wednesday and said he felt good and would return soon. The Predators have gotten points in four consecutive games (2-0-2) and are coming off of a 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. "I feel like our game has really come around," Fisher said. "We've got some big games coming up, especially [against St. Louis], a division game. Those are all big games. We want to get on a roll here, make up for lost time. We feel like we're starting to come around." The Predators would like to see more goal production from two of their top offensive players; forward Ryan Johansen has one goal through 12 games, and forward Filip Forsberg has no goals through 12 games.

 

Blues projected lineup

Alexander Steen - Patrik Berglund - David Perron

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Jori Lehtera - Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Petteri Lindbohm - Colton Parayko

Carter Hutton

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robby Fabbri, Chris Butler

Injured: Robert Bortuzzo, Joel Edmundson

 

Predators projected lineup

Viktor Arvidsson - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Colin Wilson - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Filip Forsberg - Mike Fisher - Pontus Aberg

Calle Jarnkrok - Colton Sissons - Austin Watson

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Cody Bass, Matt Carle

Injured: Anthony Bitetto (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (upper body)

 

Status report

The Blues recalled defenseman Chris Butler from Chicago of the American Hockey League as a precaution, Hitchcock said. … Bass could be the odd man out of the lineup for the Predators if Fisher returns.

 

Who's hot

Tarasenko has points in three consecutive games and leads the Blues with 12 points (five goals, seven assists). … Neal has three goals and three assists in his past five games. 

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