(20-18-10) Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators (30-10-5)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The GameTickets
The Nashville Predators return from the NHL All-Star Break to host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Bridgestone Arena to mark the unofficial start to the second half of the 2014-15 season. It's Nashville's first game since Jan. 20, a 2-1 overtime loss to Montreal.
This evening's contest is the first of three games in four days for the Preds, all within the Central Division. Nashville travels to St. Louis on Thursday night to finish out their season series with the Blues before moving on to Denver on Friday to face the Avs once more.
Filip Forsberg tallied his 25th assist of the season last week against Montreal to take over the franchise record for assists by a rookie, previously held by Martin Erat. Through 45 games this season, Forsberg is now the Preds all-time leader in both assists and points among first-year players. The Swede leads the Preds and League rookies in points with 40 (15g-25a), a mark that makes him one of the Top 25 scorers in the NHL. His four game-winning goals are tied for third most in the League.
Shea Weber has recorded four points in has past six games and seven in his last 11. Weber leads Preds defensemen in points with 30 and sits tied for 10th overall among NHL blueliners. The Preds captain averages 26:24 time on ice, leading Nashville and sitting fourth among all League skaters.
Coming out of the NHL All-Star Break, Nashville leads the NHL with a .722 winning percentage and a 30-10-5 record, having claimed points in 11 of their last 12 games (8-1-3). Headed into tonight's game, the Preds record within their own division is 12-3-2; the 12 wins equal the number of victories against division opponents through the entire 2013-14 season.
With Mike Ribeiro's tally against the Canadiens last Tuesday, the Predators became one of just six NHL teams to have six players who have scored 10 or more goals. Nashville's win over Washington on Jan. 16, the last home game before the All-Star Break, was its seventh straight on Bridgestone Arena ice, just one shy of tying the franchise record of eight-consecutive home victories.
Colorado will face the Preds tonight without their top defenseman in Erik Johnson. The team announced Monday that the blueliner will miss the next 3-8 weeks after having a scope on his knee. Johnson has 12 goals and 23 points this season.
Veteran forwards Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla lead the Avs in points with 32 and 31, respectively. Not far behind are forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, while defenseman Tyson Barrie also contributes from the blue line. Semyon Varlomov is the man in net for Colorado, leading the way with a 12-10-6 record on the campaign.
The Avalanche are 2-1-2 in their last five but just 8-9-7 on the road this season. Nashville carries a League-leading 18-2-1 home record into tonight's outing.
Dating back to Nov. 8, 2008, the Predators are 15-7-2 against the Avalanche. Nashville is 15-10-(2)-2 all-time on home ice versus Colorado.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Matt Cullen, Roman Josi and Eric Nystrom
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Morning Skate Update:
The Predators had full participation from all healthy skaters during the morning skate. Carter Hutton is expected to get the start in net tonight against Colorado.
Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith
Wilson - Fisher - Neal
Cullen - Jarnkrok - Bourque
Nystrom - Gaustad - Jokinen
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Jones
Bartley - Volchenkov
Colorado Projected Lines:
Tanguay - Duchene - Iginla
Landeskog - O'Reilly - MacKinnon
McLeod - Mitchell - Everberg
Talbot - Cliche - Briere
Hejda - Barrie
Stuart - Redmond
Holden - Guenin