The Nashville Predators look to extend their point streak to five straight as they host the St. Louis Blues this evening at Bridgestone Arena. It's the first of five meetings scheduled between the Central Division foes this season, four of which will come before the end of the calendar year.
The Preds are coming off a 3-1 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday, bumping their record to 2-0-2 in their last four outings. James Neal and P.K. Subban each tallied a goal and an assist, while Pekka Rinne stopped 33 of 34 shots on the night.
Subban (3g-5a) and Filip Forsberg (8a) are tied for the team lead in points with eight, followed by Viktor Arvidsson (4g-3a), James Neal (3g-4a) and Roman Josi (2g-5a), who all have seven points apiece. Craig Smith's five goals are tops in the category and Rinne is 3-4-3 in 10 starts this season with a .922 save percentage.
The Blues (7-4-3) flew to Nashville late last night after falling in overtime 2-1 to Chicago. Vladimir Tarasenko leads the club with five goals and 12 points, followed by Kevin Shattenkirk and Alexander Steen with 10 points each. Paul Stastny and David Perron have four goals apiece on the season. Former Preds goaltender Carter Hutton will start tonight for St. Louis in his first return to Nashville since signing with the Blues as a free agent last summer; Hutton is 2-1-0 in three starts this season.
Video: Brooks and Stu with a game day preview
As the Preds seek to continue their point streak, here are three things to watch for against the Blues:
Consistency Is Key:
Tuesday night's effort against Ottawa was more of what the Predators have been looking for in the early portions of the season, and although they're not ready to claim they've turned things around, it's certainly looking as though they're trending in the right direction. A solid showing against a Central Division power in the Blues would only add to a growing confidence.
"We always talk about consistency… the more consistent our team can be, the better off they're going to be in the long run, and I think we're starting to find that in our group," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We still have room for improvement, but we like the direction we're headed in right now."
Video: Coach Laviolette talks about facing the Blues
With a goal and an assist on Tuesday night, Preds winger James Neal continued to add to his point totals after a slow start. Neal has goals in two-straight games and has recorded six points (3g-3a) in his last five outings. As the Preds offense continues to pick up, look for Neal to be a leader in the efforts to put more pucks in the net.
Tuesday's meeting against the Blues comes with a rematch next weekend in St. Louis, followed by two more dates in December. The two clubs will become very familiar with each other over the coming weeks, and both sides will undoubtedly want to show what they've got and exploit where they can. Look for a feeling out process between the two.
"It's always a battle," Ellis said. "You know there's going to be hits, aggressive plays, and you just have to get into the game and go out there and be part of it. They play hard, we play hard and we think we match up well. I'm sure they think they match up well against us. It's about consistency and compete level."
Video: Ekholm and Sissons talk about facing the Blues
When You Go:
As the Preds continue their support of our servicemen and women during Military Appreciation Month, players will be wearing special jerseys during pregame skate to be auctioned off by the Nashville Predators Foundation (both at the game and through the Predators App). Be sure to stop by the Foundation section on the main concourse during the evening to check out the threads.
Bridgestone Arena doors open at 5:30 p.m. (CT) for the 7 p.m. puck drop.
Take It In:
Tonight's game against the Blues begins at 7 p.m. (CT) on Fox Sports Tennessee, with the Predators Live! pregame show kicking off at 6:30 with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. Pete Weber and Brent Peterson call the action on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.