After a two-game jaunt out east, the Nashville Predators return to Bridgestone Arena tonight to begin a three-game home stand, starting against the Arizona Coyotes. It's the third and final meeting of the season between the two clubs; Nashville has gone 0-1-1 against the Coyotes, with both losses coming in the desert.
Nashville finished their trip on Saturday in Carolina, falling 4-2 to the Hurricanes, a game that broke a three-game winning streak for the Preds. Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored in the loss, and Juuse Saros made 33 saves on the night.
Ryan Johansen continues to lead the Preds in points with 55, followed by Forsberg with 54 and Arvidsson with 52. Forsberg leads the team with 29 goals on the season; Arvidsson has tallied 26 and James Neal has 21. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 27-16-8 in net; Saros has gone 8-7-3.
Arizona (26-36-9) begins a five-game trip tonight and fell 3-0 to St. Louis on Saturday night. Radim Vrbata holds the Coyotes scoring lead with 17 goals and 51 points, followed by Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 34 points and Tobias Rieder with 33. Mike Smith has gone 18-21-8 between the pipes; Louis Domingue is 8-14-1.
Video: Preds begin three-game home stand by hosting Coyotes
Update: Craig Smith appears to be back in the Preds lineup tonight with PA Parenteau being scratched. For a look at the full lineup, click here.
As the Preds look to start a new streak in front of the home crowd, here are three things to watch for:
Nashville's two leading goal-scorers, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, became even closer to both hitting the 30-goal mark as the regular season enters its final three weeks. Forsberg sits at 29 on the season and Arvidsson has 26, and with 11 games to go, the 30-goal plateau is certainly within reach, perhaps before the week is out.
If the pair of Swedes can both attain the feat, they'd become just the third duo to hit 30 goals in Preds history. Forsberg also did it last season with James Neal.
Video: Weber, Forsberg and Josi preview Yotes vs. Preds
Five is Better than Four:
With points in four-straight games, the torrid pace this season for Viktor Arvidsson continues. A point tonight would tie for the longest point streak of his career at five games and a goal would give him tallies in three straight. Arvidsson's marker on Saturday, a shot from the goal line that found its way in, shows that no shot is a bad shot, especially for someone like Arvidsson.
Video: Laviolette discusses the Preds improving their starts
The Predators woke up on Sunday morning to find themselves back out of the top three in the Central Division, thanks to a St. Louis win over the Coyotes. Nashville currently sits in the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference entering tonight's action. On paper, the Preds are superior to Arizona, but as they found out on Saturday in Carolina, the point totals don't really matter, especially at this time of year.
With three games at home this week, their longest remaining home stand of the year, this is a prime opportunity for the Preds to climb back up and solidify their positioning as the season winds down.
When You Go:
Tonight kicks off Military Appreciation Week, presented by Ford, at Bridgestone Arena. Servicemen and women will be recognized throughout the week and all fans attending each game will receive a miniature American flag. More information on Military Appreciation Week can be found here.
The Predators Food Drive in support of Second Harvest Food Bank and presented by UnitedHealthcare is also today. Fans can donate by clicking here or can bring non-perishable food items to the game. Arena doors open at 5:30 p.m. CT for tonight's game.
Take It In:
Puck drop this evening comes at 7 p.m. CT, with pregame coverage beginning on Fox Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. and 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network at 6 p.m.