After a successful weekend sweep, the Nashville Predators are back on home ice tonight when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Bridgestone Arena. This evening's matchup is the second of eight scheduled meetings between the two clubs this season; the Preds and Canes are making up a game tonight that was originally postponed back on Jan. 19 due to an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel.
Nashville collected four points in two days when they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 2-1 and 3-1, respectively. Mattias Ekholm scored both goals for the Preds on Saturday, Eeli Tolvanen's power-play goal proved to be the game-winner on Sunday, and goaltender Juuse Saros collected both wins in net for the Predators.
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Video: Harpur speaks on earning his place in the lineup
The two victories bumped Nashville's record to 10-11-0 with 20 points, and tonight brings about a test against a Carolina team that sits in the top half of the Central Division, a spot where the Predators want to eventually be.
"Our game is trending in the right direction," Preds forward Nick Cousins said following Sunday's win. "The last five games we've had a lot of consistency with our defense, [they're] getting the forwards the puck really quickly, and it makes our transition game that much more effective, so it's been good. We've got to keep it going. I mean, obviously we've dug ourselves in a hole here that we've got to get out of, but I really liked our game. I think we're trending in the right direction, so it's good to see."
Video: Coach Hynes provides insight on penalty kill
The Predators did not practice Monday, but they did activate forward Mathieu Olivier from Injured Reserve and assigned him to the taxi squad. Olivier had missed the past eight games with an upper-body injury.
Update: Ryan Ellis has been placed on IR with an upper-body injury and is out 4-6 weeks; Luke Kunin has been placed on IR with a lower-body injury and is out 2-4 weeks; Ryan Johansen has been placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list. Additionally, the Preds have recalled forwards Tanner Jeannot, Mathieu Olivier, Eeli Tolvanen and defenseman Alexandre Carrier from the taxi squad.
Video: Saros leads Predators to 3-1 win against Blue Jackets
The Good Guys:
In addition to Tolvanen's power-play goal, Cousins and Erik Haula also tallied for Nashville during Sunday's 3-1 win over Columbus. Haula's goal came while on the penalty kill late in the game marking the first shorthanded goal of the season for the Preds. Saros stopped 28 shots on Sunday for his second victory in as many days.
Filip Forsberg continues to lead the Preds in scoring with nine goals and 19 points, followed by Captain Roman Josi (2g-11a) with 13 points. Mikael Granlund (4g-5a) and Ryan Ellis (2g-7a) have nine points apiece. Granlund and Calle Jarnkrok have four goals each, while Tolvanen, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi and Colton Sissons have each scored on three occasions. Saros is 5-5-0 in net for Nashville; Pekka Rinne owns a 5-6-0 mark on the season.
The Hurricanes stopped a three-game skid with a shootout win over the Panthers on Saturday, and they won again, 3-2, in OT, on Monday night in Florida. Vincent Trochek (11g-7a) and Sebastian Aho (6g-12a) are tied for the team lead with 18 points, and Andrei Svechnikov (7g-10a) has 17 points for Carolina. Nino Neiderreiter has nine goals on the season for the Canes, while Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn have also found the back of the net seven times each. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic got the win in net for the Canes on Monday; he's 3-2-1 on the season, while James Reimer is 9-3-0.
The Predators are 15-13-(1)-3 all-time against the Hurricanes, including a 9-6-(0)-1 record at Bridgestone Arena. After enjoying success against Carolina in the late 2000s and early 2010s - including an eight-game point streak (6-0-2) from 2008-12 - the Predators have dropped eight of their last nine against the Hurricanes.
Nashville is seeking its first home win over Carolina since Oct. 8, 2015, a four-game span. The Predators and Hurricanes split their two-game, regular-season series in 2019-20, with Nashville earning a 3-0 victory in Raleigh on Nov. 29, 2019.
Notables Versus Carolina:
Filip Forsberg scored on Jan. 18 against Carolina and has seven points (4g-3a) in 11 career games against the Hurricanes. Mikael Granlund has points in four of his last five games vs. Carolina and 12 points (4g-8a) in 13 career contests vs. the Hurricanes.
Ryan Johansen has 11 points (3g-8a) in 19 career meetings with the Hurricanes and had a four-game point streak (1g-3a) against Carolina from Jan. 2 to Nov. 4, 2014. Erik Haula played 41 games for Carolina in the 2019-20 season, tallying 12 goals and 22 points.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for tonight's 7 p.m. CT puck drop from Nashville begins on FOX Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show hosted by Lyndsay Rowley and Terry Crisp. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6 p.m. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here
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