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Game Day: Canadiens vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(46-20-7) Montreal Canadiens vs. Nashville Predators (44-21-8)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
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Fresh off of their 3-0 over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, the Nashville Predators are in for quite a challenge tonight as they host the Montreal Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena.

One of three teams to lead the NHL with 99 points, Montreal is tied with the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. There are nine games remaining in the regular season for the Preds, with the next five coming against teams that currently hold a playoff spot.

Montreal’s visit to Nashville on Tuesday is the final time an Eastern Conference opponent will skate in Tennessee during the 2014-15 regular season. The Habs' visit finishes off a stretch where the Preds have seen Eastern Conference teams in seven of their last 15 home games, including two of their last four. The Preds are 17-10-2 against the East and 12-3-0 against its teams on home ice.

Forward Colin Wilson, who participated in his first practice with the team on Monday since leaving Thursday's session with a lower-body injury, is still considered day-to-day. Forward Matt Cullen was given a maintenance day on Monday. Forwards James Neal (upper-body) and Eric Nystrom (lower-body) were also absent from Monday's session.

Craig Smith’s third-period goal on Saturday increased his point total to 13 (9g-5a) in his last 17 games and moved him into sole possession of the team lead in goals. With 23 tallies on the season, Smith is one goal from tying his career high in the category (24 goals, 2013-14).

The Madison, Wisconsin, native is one of six Preds players to have played in all 73 of the team’s games this season and leads the team in shots on goal (229). His 41 points are fifth among Nashville skaters and the second-highest point total of his career.

Pekka Rinne stopped all 24 shots the Sabres threw at him on Saturday to tally his 38th win and fourth shutout of the season. On the season, Rinne is second in the NHL in wins and among the Top Five in both goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.927). In extra time this season, Rinne is in the Top 3 in goals-against average (1.23) and save percentage (.964) among goaltenders who played 14 or more overtime frames.

Filip Forsberg leads the Preds in points this season (21g-34a-55pts) and is second in the category among all League rookies. Among first-year players, Forsberg leads in power-play assists (13) and shots on goal (215) and is second in assists (34) and power-play points (18).

Mike Ribeiro is second on the Preds with 54 points (13g-41a), the most points he has tallied since the 2011-12 season with Dallas (18g-45a-63pts, 74gp), and leads team forwards in average time on ice (18:38). Ribeiro’s 41 assists are tops on the team and are in the NHL’s Top 15 in the category.

Ribeiro was Montreal’s second choice, 45th overall (second round) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. In 276 games with the Canadiens from 1999-2006, Ribeiro tallied 50 goals and 103 assists (153 points). In 10 games played against the Habs, Ribeiro has tallied 12 points (3g-9a).

Max Pacioretty leads the Canadiens when it comes to putting the puck in the net, tallying 35 goals this season to go along with 28 helpers. Pacioretty's 63 points pace the team, followed by forward Tomas Plekanec and defenseman P.K. Subban with 52 points apiece. Brendan Gallagher, Andrei Markov, David Desharnais and Alex Galchenyuk have all eclipsed the 40-point mark for the Habs.

Goaltender Carey Price leads Montreal in net, sitting atop the NHL with 40 wins. Price is 40-15-4 with nine shutouts, also leading the League in blank sheets, goals-against average and save percentage. Price has recorded two shutouts in his last two games.

The Preds are 6-5-(1)-5 all-time against the Habs and 3-1-(1)-3 on Bridgestone Arena ice. Nashville has claimed at least a point in its last six matchups against Montreal (3-0-3) dating back to Nov. 14, 2009.

Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Pekka Rinne, Mattias Ekholm and Calle Jarnkrok


What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette



Morning Skate Update:

The Preds held a skate prior to this evening's contest against Montreal at Bridgestone Arena. Forward Colin Wilson participated after returning to practice yesterday and looks to return to the lineup tonight.

Forward Matt Cullen, who had a maintenance day yesterday, was on the ice for the morning skate but did not take line rushes.

Winger Viktor Stalberg left the morning skate early and did not return. Head Coach Peter Laviolette did not yet have an update on Stalberg's status after the skate.

Forwards James Neal (upper-body) and Eric Nystrom (lower-body) did not participate.

Nashville Morning Skate Lines:

Forwards:

Wilson - Ribeiro - Bourque

Arvidsson - Fisher - Smith

Forsberg - Jarnkrok - Stalberg (left early, did not return)

Beck - Gaustad - Santorelli

Defensemen:

Josi - Weber

Jones - Franson

Ekholm - Ellis

Extra: Bartley - Volchenkov

Goaltenders:

Pekka Rinne*

Carter Hutton

*Probable Starter


Montreal Projected Lineup:

Forwards:


Galchenyuk - Plekanec - Gallagher

Pacioretty - Desharnais - Parenteau

De La Rose - Eller - Smith-Pelly

Prust - Mitchell - Weise

Defensemen:

Markov - Subban

Beaulieu - Petry

Emelin - Pateryn

Goaltenders:

Carey Price*

Dustin Tokarski

*Probable Starter
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