(24-11-8) Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators (29-9-4)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN, NHLN-US | Radio: 102.5 The GameTickets
The Nashville Predators are set to host the Washington Capitals in the final game at Bridgestone Arena before the 2015 All-Star Break and tonight's contest will be significant in more ways than one.
The Preds will be without star goaltender Pekka Rinne for the first time this season after the NHL's wins leader suffered an injury in Tuesday's game against Vancouver. The club announced Thursday that Rinne will miss three to five weeks with a sprained knee
. Goaltender Carter Hutton is expected to take Rinne's place as the Predators starter for the time being. Hutton has yet to record a win this season, going 0-3-2. Marek Mazanec was recalled from the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals on Thursday
to serve as a second netminder.
Tonight also marks the return of Nashville's former Head Coach, Barry Trotz. The first coach in franchise history compiled a record of 557-449-(60)-100 in 1,196 games with the Preds. During his tenure in Nashville, Trotz was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award two times (2010, 2011) and his 557 wins ranked him 13th in all-time coaching victories.
In addition to registering his third game-winning goal of the season on Tuesday against the Canucks, Colin Wilson tallied another goals and two assists, marking his third career four-point night. Wilson's four-point game was the 35th time a Predators player has achieved the feat in franchise history. Wilson has six multi-point outings in his last 11 games and 28 points (14g-14a) in his last 26 outings.
Mike Fisher recorded a goal on Tuesday, with the Predators improving their record to 8-0-0 this season when he scores. After going scoreless in his first three games back in the lineup after recovering from an offseason Achilles injury, Fisher has posted 16 points in 18 games.
For the second time this season, the Preds have put together six-straight home victories. The team's current home winning streak is two shy of tying the franchise record of eight-consecutive home victories, set in 2007. Nashville's record on home ice this season is 17-2-1, a record that contains 14 one-goal decisions, including two that needed overtime and four shootout victories. Just three home wins have been decided by more than one goal.
Nicklas Backstrom leads the offensive charge for the Capitals, posting 42 points through 43 games this season. Not far behind is Alex Ovechkin, who leads the Caps in goals with 22. Braden Holtby is the man in net for Washington, going 22-8-7 on the season with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.
The Capitals have won three games in a row and are 7-1-2 in their last 10 contests. The Preds have four contests in a row and have an identical record as Washington over their last 10 matches.
Tonight's meeting is only the third time the Caps have traveled to Music City since Nov. 15, 2011. All-time, Nashville is 7-7-(1)-4 against the Capitals and 5-2-(1)-2 at home. James Neal has 12 points in 13 career games against Washington. Mike Ribeiro played one season in Washington (2012-13), tallying 49 points in 48 games with the club.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Carter Hutton, Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown
Coach Presser: Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Coach Presser: Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz
Predators Update:Projected Washington Lines (via Alex Prewitt):
Forward Eric Nystrom participated in his second-straight morning skate, but remains on Injured Reserve (IR) with an upper-body injury. Carter Hutton is expected to get the start in net tonight for the Preds.
Projected Nashville Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith
Wilson - Fisher - Neal
Cullen - Jarnkrok - Jokinen
Bourque - Gaustad - Beck
Extra: Nystrom, Stalberg
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Jones
Volchenkov - Bartley
Ovechkin - Backstrom - Burakovsky
Johansson - Kuznetsov - Brouwer
Laich - Fehr - Ward
Chimera - Beagle - WilsonDefensemen:
Orpik - Carlson
Alzner - Niskanen
Hillen - GreenGoaltenders:
Justin Peters*Projected Starter
Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz on playing the Predators in Nashville:
"We're playing the top team in the National Hockey League tonight. I know this building; I'm trying to warn [my team] that this building has great electricity... I'm trying to convey that to my team that this is a hard building to play in. [St. Louis Head Coach] Ken Hitchcock played it up best, he said, 'Going into Nashville on a weekend, it is the Colosseum, it's the Roman Colosseum coming in here.' You've got a good team that is a hard forechecking, transition based team that doesn't give you a lot, and you've got active defensemen and good goaltending. This is a big test for us."