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Game Day: Avalanche vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(38-33-4) Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators (39-23-13)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #COLvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | March of Dimes


The Nashville Predators wrap up their four-game home stand tonight and have a chance to clinch a spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the process.

If the Predators can beat the Colorado Avalanche in regulation this evening, they will secure a spot in the postseason for the second consecutive season. Nashville is currently 11 points ahead of Colorado in the Western Conference standings; the Preds currently own the top Wild Card spot in the West.

The Predators are coming off a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night and are a perfect 3-0-0 on their current home stand. Colorado fell 4-0 to Minnesota on Saturday and have lost two games in a row. The Avalanche are expected to be without leading scorer Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon tonight with both players out due to injury.

Preds forwards Filip Forsberg and James Neal have each reached the 30-goal mark this season, becoming the fifth and sixth players in franchise history to attain the feat. It’s also the second time that the team has had two, 30-goal scorers in a single season. The only other time that the Preds had multiple 30-goal scorers was 2005-06, when Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya each notched 31. The Preds are one of only two NHL clubs so far this season to have multiple 30-goal scorers, joining the Dallas Stars (Benn/Seguin) in that category.

Nashville Captain Shea Weber passed Martin Erat for sole possession of second place on the franchise’s all-time goals list on Saturday night with his 164th career goal. Weber has 18 goals so far this season, the eighth time in his career he’s reached the 15-goal plateau.

With three assists on Saturday, defenseman Roman Josi reached 44 helpers this season, setting the single-season franchise record for most assists by a defenseman. The record previously belonged to Kimmo Timonen, who posted 42 assists during the 2006-07 season. Josi’s 56 points on the season (12g-44a) are also a career high, and place him in a tie for the most points by a Predators defenseman in a single season (Weber in 2013-14). Since Feb. 1, Josi has registered 21 points in 24 games (2g-19a), which is second only to Forsberg’s 26 points, among Nashville skaters, in that span.

Forsberg and Josi are both tied for the team lead with 56 points apiece. Forsberg's 31 goals lead the team, followed by Neal who has 30. Josi's 44 assists are first among his teammates, with Mike Ribeiro recording 42 helpers thus far. Neal is third in points with 51, Ribeiro is fourth with 49 and Weber has 18 goals and 48 points from the blue line. Pekka Rinne is 32-19-10 on the season and has won all three games on the home stand for the Preds.

Ryan Ellis has a point in three of his last four games versus the Avalanche (2g-2a). Ryan Johansen also has a point in three of his last four games against Colorado (2g-2a), while Craig Smith has a point in four of his last five games versus the Avalanche (2g-2a).

Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, who are both expected to be out of the lineup tonight, lead the Avs in scoring with 56 and 52 points, respectively. Gabriel Landeskog has 18 goals and 48 points on the season; Carl Soderberg and Tyson Barrie have 47 points apiece. Jarome Iginla has found the back of the net 19 times on the campaign. Semyon Varlamov is 26-20-3 for the Avs in goal this season.

Nashville trails in the season series, having won one of the three contests. All-time, Nashville is 32-27-8 versus Colorado including a 17-11-4 record at Bridgestone Arena.

Today is March of Dimes Awareness Day at Bridgestone Arena with food trucks on the plaza from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (CT) and awareness night at the game. Donations through initiatives like these to March of Dimes support breakthrough research and life-saving programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. Monday evening’s contest is also Bristol Motor Speedway ticket night.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Mike Ribeiro, Colton Sissons and Mattias Ekholm


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

Defenseman Anthony Bitetto (lower-body) did not participate in the Predators morning skate on Monday. Forwards Gabriel Bourque, Paul Guastad and Austin Watson skated as the extra forwards.

Nashville Predators:

Forwards
Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki Colton Sissons Eric Nystrom
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm Petter Granberg

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Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the projected started in net after leaving the morning skate first. Carter Hutton is expected to serve as the backup.

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto (lower-body), (F) Gabriel Bourque, (F) Paul Gaustad, (F) Austin Watson


Colorado Avalanche:

Forwards
Mikkel Boedker Mikhail Grigorenko Blake Comeau
Shawn Matthias Carl Soderberg Gabriel Landeskog
Andreas Martinsen John Mitchell Jarome Iginla
Cody McLeod Andrew Agozzino Jack Skille
Defense
Francois Beauchemin Erik Johnson
Nick Holden Tyson Barrie
Chris Bigras Zach Redmond

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Goaltenders: Semyon Varlamov is the projected starter in net with Calvin Pickard serving as the backup.

Extra: (F) Matt Duchene, (F) Nathan MacKinnon, (D) Brad Stuart (IR), (F) Jesse Winchester (IR), (F) Eric Gelinas

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