The final three-game home stand of the regular season continues tonight for the Nashville Predators as they prepare to host the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena. It's the third and final meeting this season between the Preds and Flames; Nashville is 1-0-1 against Calgary so far, including a 6-5 overtime loss on Feb. 21.
The Predators bounced back from a loss at Carolina last Saturday with a 3-1 win over the Coyotes on Monday night. Ryan Ellis scored twice in the win with Craig Smith setting up both tallies. Viktor Arvidsson also scored to extend his point streak to five games, and Pekka Rinne collected the win in net. It was the second, two-goal game in Ellis's career - with the first occurring earlier this season in Calgary.
Nashville's top line of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Arvidsson are one, two, and three in team scoring this season with 55, 54 and 53 points, respectively. Forsberg's 29 goals lead the team with Arvidsson second at 27 and James Neal with 21. Captain Mike Fisher has 17 goals to go along with 41 points, and Roman Josi has added 44 points from the blue line. Rinne has amassed a 28-16-8 mark in the crease; Juuse Saros is 8-7-3.
Calgary (41-28-4) is coming off a 4-2 loss to Washington on Tuesday, but the Flames are still one of the League's hottest teams, owning an 8-2-0 mark in their last 10 outings. Johnny Gaudreau leads the team with 53 points, followed by Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund at 50 points apiece. Monahan has scored 24 times on the season, Backlund has 21 and Gaudreau and Michael Frolik have 16 goals each. Brian Elliott owns a 23-14-3 record in net; Chad Johnson is 18-14-1.
Video: Preds look for five of six points in Flames series
Update: Mike Fisher, who has missed the last two practices, was absent from Thursday's optional morning skate. At yesterday's practice, Colton Sissons took Fisher's spot on the second line. For a look at the Preds projected lineup, click here.
As the Preds look to take five out of six points from the Flames this season, here are three things to watch for:
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot:
The Flames have cooled a bit over the past week, but only because they lost a couple of games for the first time since the middle of February. The Flames rattled off a 10-game win streak, which began in Nashville on Feb. 21, and remain a top force in the NHL at this point. Although not in the same division, both clubs are also jockeying for playoff positioning, so the importance on tonight's contest remains elevated.
"They're the hottest team in the League right now," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the Flames. "They're playing better than anybody; even [Tuesday] in Washington, Washington is a top team in the East… They went in there and played them hard and gave them a good fight… It's going to be a real tough test for us."
Video: Ekholm and McLeod preview Flames and Preds
Six is Better than Five:
There's probably at least 38 reasons to include Viktor Arvidsson once more as someone to watch for, but his five-game point streak is toward the top of the list. Arvidsson scored again on Monday and now has goals in three-straight games, just three away from becoming a 30-goal scorer for the first time. The Swede has 22 points in his last 21 outings and has assists in three consecutive games against the Flames.
Video: Laviolette on Preds' pivotal meeting with Flames
Defensively Sound, Offensive Attack:
Defenseman Roman Josi says he was pleased with the way the Preds held Arizona to limited scoring chances during Monday's win, something that has been a point of emphasis of late. He also recalled Nashville's four first-period shots against the Coyotes as area of potential improvement tonight.
"I thought we played really well defensively, they didn't have a lot of chances and [Rinne] was great in net," Josi said. "Defensively, we played way better than the game before that in Carolina. Offensively, especially in the first, we could've done maybe a little better job attacking, but we got better in the second. Something we can do better might be to attack the game a little more in the first."
When You Go:
Military Appreciation Week, presented by Ford, continues tonight with all fans set to receive a miniature American flag upon entry into Bridgestone Arena. Servicemen and women will be honored throughout the game with patriotic elements during the evening.
Thursday is also Tattoo Industry Night, for more information and for a photo blog with Preds players, click here.
Arena doors open at 5 p.m. CT tonight for Hockey Happy Hour with half-priced domestic draft beer and sodas at bars between Barrel House and FOX Sports Tennessee Bar until 6:30 p.m.
Take It In:
Pregame festivities for tonight's 7 p.m. CT puck drop between the Preds and Flames commence at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Tennessee and 6 p.m. CT on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.