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Game Day: Bruins vs. Preds Preview

Nashville Hosts Boston as Homestand Continues Following Forsberg's Four-Goal Performance; Former Preds Forward Craig Smith Returns

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Content Manager & Beat Reporter

After closing out the month of November with a four-goal performance from Filip Forsberg, the Nashville Predators begin their December schedule tonight when they welcome back Craig Smith and the Boston Bruins to Bridgestone Arena. Tonight's contest is the first of two meetings between the Preds and B's this season; Nashville will visit Boston in January.

The Preds started their three-game homestand on Tuesday night, and Forsberg enjoyed one of the more memorable outings in recent memory when he scored four times in Nashville's 6-0 rout over Columbus. The effort followed a 6-2 loss in Colorado last Saturday, and following the victory against the Blue Jackets, Predators Head Coach John Hynes offered some insight into the decision to give Preds players not one but two days off before beginning the homestand.

"We went through a pretty tough stretch," Hynes said of the Preds playing five games in an eight-day span around the Thanksgiving holiday. "I just felt like even in the Colorado game, you could tell - you guys don't see it - but just the spirit the team had, they were right at it, they were working, they were trying, but it wasn't the prettiest game. They stayed together on the bench. We made mistakes, they wound up scoring goals. The atmosphere in the locker room was good, and you could just see it certainly was a really connected group, and the want was there, but I think it was a long stretch.

"Sometimes you give two days off, sometimes you don't, but we just felt as a staff, after that game, these guys are hungry, they want to do the right things, and you can see it, but maybe they just need a little bit of a mental release. Then we're flying home and we got in at I think 3 or 3:30 [in the morning], so Sunday's kind of a wash, and I think the extra day was good. And credit to the players - they're smart, too. They know they get two days off, and they want to have a good performance out of it."

The Predators delivered with the additional rest, and now they'll look to do so once more against a Bruins team that has alternated wins and losses in their last six games. But for Nashville, it's all about what they have inside of their own room, and the ability to respond after a loss this season has been a strong point. Now, they'll look to win consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.

"I don't think individual games, [they] really don't shape our mentality in that way," Preds goaltender Juuse Saros said following his shutout on Tuesday. "I feel like [we have a] strong mentality as a team. We kind of know how to play our game, and so it never comes up to effort or attitude - we've always got those. Obviously, it's a long season, and there's games that won't go your way, but I think we have a pretty good idea of what we have to do to be successful. So, we kind of just shake that off and got ready for this game."

The Predators practiced on Wednesday in Nashville and reassigned forward Michael McCarron to Milwaukee earlier in the day as well.

Video: Forsberg's four-goal night powers Preds' 6-0 rout

The Good Guys:

Not only did Forsberg record just the third four-goal game in Predators history, but Mikael Granlund dished out the primary assist on each of Forsberg's tallies, just the 12th time in NHL history a player has accomplished that feat.

Thanks to his effort, Granlund now leads the Preds in scoring with 25 points (5g-20a) in 22 games, followed by Matt Duchene (13g-11a) with 24 points and Roman Josi (7g-13a) with 20 points. Ryan Johansen has six goals and 18 assists on the season, and Forsberg has now potted 10 goals and 15 points in just 13 games. Saros is now 10-7-1 in net for Nashville with a .922 save percentage.

Video: Mikael Granlund previews Bruins vs. Preds

The Opposition:

The Bruins fell to the Red Wings by a 2-1 final on Tuesday night in Boston, and they were without Head Coach Bruce Cassidy after he was placed in COVID-19 protocols. Boston also played without forward Brad Marchand as he served the first of a three-game suspension due to slew-footing an opponent.

Marchand is Boston's leading scorer with 24 points, but David Pastrnak will own that title tonight with eight goals and 19 points on the season. Patrice Bergeron (8g-10a) has 18 points, and Charlie McAvoy has three goals and 14 points from the backend. Smith, who will make his first return to Nashville tonight after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Preds, has two goals and four points in 14 games. Jeremy Swayman is 6-4-0 in net for the Bruins; Linus Ullmark is 5-4-0.

Video: Coach Hynes previews Bruins vs. Preds

All-Time Meetings:

The Predators are 14-14-(1)-2 all-time against the Bruins, including a 10-6-(0)-0 record at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville and Boston last met on Jan. 7, 2020 at Bridgestone Arena, a 6-2 defeat for the home side. It was John Hynes' first game as Predators head coach; his hiring was announced that morning.

Nashville has won six of its last 10 meetings against Boston (6-4-0). At home, the Preds have won five of six and have points in eight of their last 10 games vs. the Bruins (8-2-0). Prior to the Jan. 7, 2020 defeat, Nashville's last regulation loss at home to Boston was on Dec. 23, 2013.

Boston is the only team that Nashville has never had a transaction with since the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft, in which the Predators selected center Mike Sullivan.

Tweet from @brooksbratten: The homestand continues tonight for the #Preds as Craig Smith and the Boston Bruins come to town - I'll get you set --> #BOSvsNSH

Notables Versus Boston:

Ryan Johansen has 13 points (4g-9a) in 16 career games vs. the Bruins. Johansen recorded three assists at Boston on Dec. 21, 2020. Filip Forsberg owns nine points (6g-3a) in 11 career meetings with Boston, and Roman Josi has five goals and 10 points in 16 career games against Boston.

Dante Fabbro played three seasons of collegiate hockey for Boston University from 2016-19, appearing in 111 games while posting 80 points (22g-58a), the most among team defensemen in that span.

Predators Head Coach John Hynes and Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty both played college hockey at Boston University. Hynes and Kealty helped lead the Terriers to four consecutive Frozen Four appearances and the 1995 NCAA title. Predators Defense Development Coach Rob Scuderi won an NCAA title at Boston College in 2001.

Predators prospects Jeremy Davies (Northeastern); David Farrance (Boston University); and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (Northeastern) all played or currently play college hockey in the Boston area.

Bruins forward Craig Smith played 661 games for Nashville from 2011-20, tallying 162 goals and 330 points. Bruins forward Erik Haula played the 2020-21 season in Nashville and had 21 points (9g-12a) in 51 games.

Watch & Listen:

Coverage for this evening's 7 p.m. CT puck drop from Nashville begins at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show on Bally Sports South hosted by Lyndsay Rowley and Terry Crisp. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6 p.m. with Darren McFarland. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.

Tweet from @PredsNHL: NAVY STADIUM SERIES JERSEYS 👀 Tomorrow. 5PM. Bridgestone Arena plaza. You don���t want to miss it.

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