The Nashville Predators conclude their three-game home stand tonight as they welcome the Vancouver Canucks to Bridgestone Arena. It marks the third and final meeting between the clubs this season. The two have become familiar with one another as of late, with the other two meetings coming a week apart from one another last month.
A shorthanded, overtime goal from Calle Jarnkrok gave Nashville a win over the Canucks on Jan. 10 before Vancouver topped the Preds on Jan. 17.
Nashville is coming off a 1-0 loss to Detroit on Saturday, in which they registered 42 shots but were unable to find the back of the net. Still, the Preds are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and have points in six of their last seven at home.
Vancouver native Ryan Johansen leads Nashville in scoring with 38 points, followed by Filip Forsberg with 33 points, including 15 goals. Viktor Arvidsson 13 goals and 32 points, while Captain Mike Fisher has 12 goals and 30 points. James Neal leads the team with 17 goals. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 20-14-6 on the season; Juuse Saros is 5-3-2.
The Canucks (23-23-6) have dropped their last three - including a 6-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday - and begin a six-game road trip tonight. Bo Horvat is Vancouver's points leader with 33, followed by the Sedin brothers; Henrik has 32 and Daniel has 28. Both Sedins have 11 goals each. Horvat has tallied 15 times and Brandon Sutter has 14. Ryan Miller is 14-14-3 in net; Jacob Markstrom is 9-9-3.
Video: Preds conclude a three-game home stand vs. Canucks
Update: The Preds placed forward Harry Zolnierczyk on Injured Reserve and recalled Pontus Aberg from Milwaukee (AHL). Center Vernon Fiddler is expected to make his "second" Preds debut tonight on Nashville's fourth line.
See the Preds projected lineup versus the Canucks here.
As the Preds finish off their season series with the Canucks, here are three things to watch for:
It's been almost eight years since Vernon Fiddler last played a home game at Bridgestone Arena, but he looks to do just that tonight against Vancouver. Acquired Saturday from New Jersey, Fiddler began his career in Nashville, and is now coming back to his first NHL club to provide a veteran presence, according to Head Coach Peter Laviolette. Fiddler will undoubtedly want to make some sort of an impact in his second Smashville debut, so enjoy seeing a familiar face sport the Preds logo once more.
"I'm very excited to be back," Fiddler said. "My career started here. I had lots of great memories, and I'm looking forward to making some more here."
Video: Ellis, McLeod and Fiddler speak prior to VAN vs. NSH
When Roman Josi returned to the lineup on Saturday against Detroit, it marked the first time since December that both he and P.K. Subban had skated in a game together, giving Nashville their healthiest blue line in quite some time. Josi was paired alongside Yannick Weber in his return, and those duos figure to stay the same tonight.
"We put [Josi] with Yannick, and we kept Matt Irwin up with Ryan [Ellis] because they've been playing so well together," Laviolette said. "Really what it did was it gave us a good balance on the backend with six guys… I think the more [Josi] plays, the more his timing comes and his confidence comes with that, but I thought he played a great game jumping back in like that."
Video: Laviolette announces Ellis will join leadership group
The word out of Vancouver points to the Canucks looking at their current road trip, which begins tonight in Nashville, as a do-or-die scenario to determine whether or not they have a shot at the postseason. One could expect them to play with as much desperation as any team the Preds have faced this season.
"They're a fast team, they work really hard and they play the right way," defenseman P.K. Subban said of the Canucks. "They have some players that can make a difference offensively, so we have to play them smart and learn from the last time that we played them… We have to be willing to put a lot of pucks at the net, just like we have been doing."
When You Go:
Tonight marks another Guaranteed Win Night in Smashville, with each fan set to receive a winning scratch-off ticket upon entry into Bridgestone Arena with Tuesday's grand prize winner receiving an 18K White Gold Diamond and Sapphire Peace heart pendant, courtesy of King Jewelers. Arena doors open at 5:25 p.m. CT for the 7 p.m. start.
Take It In:
Coverage begins on Fox Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show. The Predators Radio Network begins pregame festivities at 6 p.m.