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Game Day: Avalanche vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(39-36-4) Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators (39-26-14)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #COLvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | Nissan Tuesday | Shoe Drive


The Nashville Predators begin their final week of the 2015-16 regular season by hosting the Colorado Avalanche tonight at Bridgestone Arena as part of Fan Appreciation Week. Nashville has already secured their spot in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the Avs continue to battle with Minnesota for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Nashville fell 3-2 to San Jose in a shootout on Saturday night and are 0-3-1 in their last four outings. Colorado has lost three in a row, with their last win coming eight days ago in Nashville when they beat the Preds 4-3.

The Preds hope to set another attendance record during their final two home games of the season, having already skated in front of sellout crowds for a record 33 times so far in 2015-16. The team has played to 99.1 percent capacity this season, hosting over 660,000 fans. The Preds are on pace to surpass the most-ever visitors at Bridgestone Arena, with the record being 691,028 set during the 2014-15 regular season.

Two Predators are within striking distance of surpassing the franchise record for most goals in a single season. Filip Forsberg (31) and James Neal (31), trail Jason Arnott (33) to reach the mark. Forsberg and Neal became the fifth and sixth players in franchise history to score 30 in a single season. It's 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 in that category.

Neal has scored 31 goals so far this season, with 27 being even-strength. He is tied for the league lead and is the current franchise record holder in that category. Forsberg, who has 23 even-strength tallies, is just four away from tying Neal.

Nashville's defensive corps is just four points away from reaching 200 combined points for the season. Roman Josi leads Nashville defensemen with 58 points (13g-45a), while Shea Weber leads the group with 19 goals. Preds defensemen are first in the NHL in goals with 52.

Forsberg's 59 points lead the Preds in the category, followed by Josi with 58 and Neal with 55. Neal and Forsberg are tied for the team lead with 31 goals apiece, followed by Craig Smith with 20. Mike Ribeiro has 43 assists and 50 points on the season; Weber has 49 to his credit. Pekka Rinne is 32-21-10 between the pipes while Carter Hutton is 7-4-4.
 
Defenseman Ryan Ellis, who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, has 12 career points versus the Avalanche, his most against any team (4g-8a). Forsberg is on a three-game point streak against the Avalanche (2g-3a) and Ryan Johansen has a point in two of his last three games versus Colorado (1g-2a). Smith has a point in five of his last six games against the Avs (3g-2a).

Matt Duchene leads the Avalanche with 30 goals and 57 points; Captain Gabriel Landeskog has 20 goals and 51 points. Nathan MacKinnon, who has found the back of the net 21 times this season, is injured. Jarome Iginla has hit the 20-goal mark for the 17th time in his NHL career and has 44 points this season. Semyon Varlamov is 27-23-3 for Colorado in net.

Tonight marks the fifth and final meeting of the regular season between the Central Division foes. Nashville trails the season series with a 1-3-0 record. All-time, Nashville is 32-28-8 versus Colorado including a 17-12-4 record at Bridgestone Arena.

The Preds are hosting a shoe drive at tonight's games to help Soles for Souls, a non-profit group committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. Fans can bring new or gently used shoes with them to the game for donation.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

The Predators held an optional morning skate on Tuesday. The below lineup is based on the rushes seen during Monday's practice.

Update: The Predators have reassigned Stefan Elliott to the Milwaukee Admirals. He was on an emergency recall.

Nashville Predators:

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

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

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto (lower-body), (F) Miikka Salomaki (undisclosed), (D), (F) Gabriel Bourque (upper-body), (F) Austin Watson, (F) Colton Sissons


Colorado Avalanche:

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

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

Extra: (F) Nathan MacKinnon, (D) Brad Stuart (IR), (F) Jesse Winchester (IR), (D) Eric Gelinas, (D) Nikita Zadorov, (D) Andrew Bodnarchuk

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