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Despite Injuries, Grueling Schedule, Preds Still Finding Success

Nashville Concludes Stretch of 13 Games in 24 Days by Remaining Atop Western Conference

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Viktor Arvidsson was first. P.K. Subban was next. Then, it was Kyle Turris. Filip Forsberg soon followed.

Yes, the injury bug has bitten with a vengeance in Nashville, Tennessee, over the past three weeks. Just about every team has to deal with it over the course of an 82-game season, but not all clubs are equipped to handle four big-name players out of the lineup at once.

Arvidsson was injured in Dallas on Nov. 10, the start of a grueling 24-day, 13-game stretch, the longest such period of time in the Peter Laviolette era - four-plus seasons - that the Preds have played at least every other day.

Now complete, the span saw the Preds go 7-5-1 and collect 15 points, good enough to still sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference on Dec. 4.

All things considered, that's not too shabby.

"We're trying to play the same way," Laviolette said following his club's 2-1 win over Buffalo on Monday. "I still think you need to be on the attack, you can't just sit back and defend. The shots have been up, we've been out-shooting, out-generating and out-chancing opponents as we play them here. For the last eight to 10 games, with a lot of key pieces out of the lineup, I just think it's important that we stay with our identity, but we also understand there's less room for error and we need to stay sharp."

Contributions from throughout the lineup have helped bring the wins, including notable performances from players like Austin Watson, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Hartman, Nick Bonino and Ryan Ellis. And then, there's goaltender Pekka Rinne who has given the Predators a chance to win every time he's in net, as is usually the case.

The Preds have also turned to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, for assistance. Highly touted prospect Eeli Tolvanen was recalled on Saturday morning for the first time this season and tallied two points - including his first NHL goal - against the Blackhawks. Anthony Richard made his NHL debut on Saturday, and winger Rocco Grimaldi is back with the big club as well, making a noticeable impact more often than not when he's in the lineup.

The schedule lightens just a bit for the Predators with nine games remaining before the Christmas break, but depth will continue to play a major role, with at least Forsberg and Arvidsson likely out until January.

For those who remain healthy, finding ways to be successful without key contributors is more than enough incentive for the Preds to power through and keep their place in the upper echelon of the League standings.

"It's huge motivation," center Ryan Johansen said. "We have to step up. Guys need to step up, including myself, including Pekka Rinne and Roman Josi. We need everyone stepping up right now throughout our whole lineup. That'll be motivation every game."

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