(12-23-4) Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators (25-9-4)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The GameTickets
The Nashville Predators return home to Bridgestone Arena tonight to host the Carolina Hurricanes in the second of two meetings between the pair this season. The Preds fell 2-1 to Carolina back in December.
The Predators recorded three out of a possible four points on their most recent road trip, making back-to-back stops in Los Angeles and Anaheim this past weekend. Nashville prevailed over the Kings 7-6 in overtime on Saturday before falling 4-3 to the Ducks in a shootout on Sunday. Thanks to the results, the Preds still sit first in the Central Division headed into tonight's contests.
Home ice has been kind to the Predators this season, with the team sporting a 14-2-1 record in Music City, a record that contains 12 one-goal decisions, including one that needed overtime and four shootout victories. The Preds have been playing to 99.2 percent capacity at Bridgestone Arena, selling out 13 of 17 home contests this season, including a record-breaking 17,410 attendees on Dec. 30 against St. Louis.
Also breaking records is Preds rookie forward Filip Forsberg, who is now just one point away from setting a new franchise mark for points by a rookie. Forsberg is currently tied with Alexander Radulov for the record with 37 points to his credit. The Swede leads both the Preds and all League rookies in points (14g-23a-37pts) this season and his point total puts him in the NHL's Top 20 overall.
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne continues to lead the League in wins with 25, becoming just the third goaltender in the past 25 seasons to register at least 25 victories in his first 33 starts, joining Chris Osgood and J.S. Giguere as goalies to have achieved the mark. The Finnish netminder's 2.00 goals-against average is third in the NHL while his .929 save percentage is fourth.
In the Predators last nine games (6-1-2 record), Nashville defensemen have made significant contributions. Ryan Ellis, who tallied two assists against Anaheim, has registered six points (1g-5a) and Seth Jones, who scored his second goal of the season against the Ducks, has four points (2g-2a). Three Nashville blueliners have tallied game-winning goals in the team's last nine games, including overtime game-winners from both Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi, and a shorthanded game-winner from Captain Shea Weber.
Eric Staal leads the Hurricanes in points with 22 on the season, with defenseman Justin Faulk just one point behind. The Canes have struggled to find the back of the net this season, with just eight players reaching double digits in points. Carolina sits 29th out of 30 in goals-per-game, averaging 1.92. Cam Ward is the man in net for the Canes, posting a 10-15-2 record with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage this season.
The Preds have posted wins in six of their last 11 games against the Hurricanes and have points in eight of 13 dating back to Dec. 3, 2003. Overall, Nashville is 11-7-(1)-1 in 20 all-time matchups against Carolina and are 7-2-(0)-0 on home ice.
Carolina has won two games in a row but are just 4-15-2 on the road this season. The Canes are 4-5-1 in their last 10, while the Preds have gone 6-2-2 over that span.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown
Morning Skate: Predators Update:
The Preds hosted their morning skate prior to tonight's contest against Carolina, the first time the team has been on the ice since Sunday evening's game against Anaheim. Forwards Matt Cullen (injured reserve, upper-body) and James Neal (day-to-day, lower-body) did not participate in the skate. Forward Taylor Beck (injured reserve, illness) did join his teammates on the ice, but did not participate in any line rushes. Pekka Rinne is expected to start in goal tonight for Nashville.Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith
Wilson - Fisher - Jokinen
Stalberg - Gaustad - Nystrom
Bourque - Jarnkrok - Arcobello
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Ellis
Bartley - Jones
Carter Hutton*Projected StarterCarolina Projected Lines:
E. Staal - J. Staal - Lindholm
Gerbe - Rask - Tlusty
Skinner - Nash - Terry
Malone - McClement - DwyerDefensemen:
Sekera - Faulk
Hainsey - Bellemore
Gleason - MurphyGoaltenders:
Anton Khudobin*Projected Starter