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Game Day: Blues vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(28-16-8) St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators (24-18-8)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #STLvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | Nissan Tuesday


The Nashville Predators return home after the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend to host the St. Louis Blues tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

The Preds have won four in a row, sweeping a Western Canada swing before the All-Star break, including a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames to finish the trip. St. Louis fell 2-0 to Chicago in their most recent outing on Jan. 24

“I do think that winning games and putting games together can build confidence in a team, and we needed some rest, so that’s why I feel like it was at a good point where we went into that break,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said Monday. “There’s a little bit of decompression that goes on when you get off those road trips, and now I feel like we’re coming back and ready to go. I can tell you I’m charged up. I’m ready to go.”

Since Dec. 1, Nashville has boasted one of the most successful power plays, posting the fifth-highest percentage in the League at 22.9 percent. Over the last eight games, the Preds are 6-for-24 on the power play and have killed off 25-of-26 opposition power plays. On the season, Nashville ranks eighth with the man advantage at 20.4 percent.
 
Preds Goaltender Pekka Rinne has won each of his last three games, posting a 3-0-0 record with a .963 save percentage and a 1.00 goals against average. Rinne started three of the four games during Nashville’s trip through Western Canada, defeating Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Defenseman Mattias Ekholm has notched a point in five-straight contests, recording six points in that span (1g-5a). The five-game streak sets a career high, previously a four-game stretch from Oct. 26-Nov. 6, 2013, when he had four assists. Ekholm's 22 points on the season (6g-16a) are a career high (posted 18 points last season). The team is undefeated in regulation this season (5-0-1) when he scores a goal and are 11-3-1 when he notches a point.

Ryan Johansen, who was acquired via trade from Columbus on Jan. 6, has posted 10 points (3g-7a) in his first 10 games with the club. He notched his 200th career point (an assist) on Jan. 16 versus Minnesota.
 
Defenseman Roman Josi, one of Nashville's four All-Stars, leads the team in points with 35, including 10 goals. Captain Shea Weber has 12 goals and 31 points, while Mike Ribeiro is third in points with 30, including 24 assists. James Neal, who scored twice for the Central Division in the All-Star Game, leads the club with 18 goals on the season; Filip Forsberg has 14 tallies. Rinne owns a record of 19-15-7.

Johansen is on a four-game point streak against the Blues (2g-4a) and Josi has a point in seven of his past eight games against St. Louis (2g-8a).

Vladimir Tarasenko, who represented the Blues in Nashville for All-Star Weekend, leads the team with 25 goals and 46 points. Alexander Steen has recorded 15 goals and 42 points on the season, while Captain David Backes has 12 goals and 28 points. Kevin Shattenkirk has nine goals and 27 points from the blue line. Goaltender Jake Allen is 18-10-3 on the season, including a 3-0-0 mark against the Preds; however, Allen sustained an injury on Jan. 8, is on Injured Reserve, and did not practice with the Blues on Monday. Netminder Brian Elliott is 10-6-5 in goal.

Tonight is the fourth game of the season series between the two clubs. Nashville is looking for their first win of the season against the Blues, after posting a 0-2-1 record in their first three games against them. All-time, Nashville has a 45-37-15 record against the Blues, including a 24-16-9 record at home.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Miikka Salomaki, Roman Josi and Austin Watson


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

Forward Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body) skated with the Preds during their morning skate on Tuesday.


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

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Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Colin Wilson (IR; lower-body, (F) Eric Nystrom (IR; lower-body)


St. Louis Blues:

Forwards
Alexander Steen David Backes Patrik Berglund
Magnus Paajarvi Paul Stastny Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri Jori Lehtera Troy Brouwer
Scottie Upshall Kyle Brodziak Ryan Reaves
Defense
Jay Bouwmeester Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson Colton Parayko

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Goaltenders: Brian Elliott is the expected starter in net with Pheonix Copley serving as the backup.

Extra: (F) Jaden Schwartz, (F) Steve Ott, (D) Robert Bortuzzo, (F) Dmitrij Jaskin, (F) Ty Rattie, (G) Jake Allen

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