(41-21-3) New York Islanders vs. Nashville Predators (41-17-7)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 6:30 P.M. Tickets
Looking to get back to their winning ways, the Nashville Predators are set to host the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders tonight at Bridgestone Arena. It's the second of two meetings between the clubs this season, with the Isles defeating the Preds 5-2 on Feb. 19 on Long Island.
Nashville has lost four-consecutive games in regulation, a season-high, and are 4-5-1 in their last 10 outings.
Preds forward Matt Cullen became the 103rd player in NHL history, and one of 10 active NHLers, to play in 1,200 games when he skated for the Preds on Tuesday against New Jersey. With 1,200 games under his belt, Cullen moves into a tie with Owen Nolan for 102nd all-time and within five games of the Top 100 (Brian Leetch currently holds the 100th all-time spot with 1,205 games played). Cullen has seven points (2g-5a) in his last eight games and recently tallied a four-game point streak (2g-4a) from Feb. 24-March 2. The four-game point streak bested the three-game streak Cullen set in his first three games of the season (Oct. 29-Nov. 2).
Mike Fisher tallied Nashville’s goal on Tuesday in Newark, improving his point total to six (3g-3a) in his last eight games. Since becoming a father for the first time on Friday, Feb. 27, Fisher has recorded two goals in three games played. After missing the first 21 games of the season due to an Achilles tendon injury sustained during the offseason, Fisher has recorded 34 points (16g-18a) in 44 games played, a .77 point-per-game pace. The Peterbrough, Ontario, native’s point-per-game pace is third on the team, behind only team points leaders Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro who sit tied at .80 points-per-game.
Among League rookies, Forsberg maintains the top spot in assists (31), points (51), power-play goals (tied, 5), power-play assists (12), power-play points (17) and shots on goal (200).
Pekka Rinne, who did not play on Tuesday against the Devils, is second in the NHL with 35 wins this season and is second in the NHL in both save percentage (.928) and goals-against average (2.10). Rinne is the only goaltender to have played 11 or more overtime frames and maintain a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 goals-against average (12 overtimes played, 27 saves).
One of the surprises in the East, the Islanders continue to lead their division this season and are second overall in the Eastern Conference. Isles Captain John Tavares leads the way offensively, potting 30 goals to goal along with 35 assists this season. With 65 points, Tavares is tied for second in the NHL in the category. New York's second-leading scorer, Kyle Okposo, remains out of the lineup due to injury, but Ryan Strome has 42 points and Anders Lee has tallied 21 goals to help the offensive efforts.
Jaroslav Halak has carried the mail for the Isles in net this season, going 33-13-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. The Islanders also acquired goaltender Michal Neuvirth on Monday's Trade Deadline from Buffalo.
Thursday night’s contest between the Predators and Islanders is the 13th time the Preds have faced an Eastern Conference opponent in their last 20 games, a stretch that included February’s 10 games versus the East (in 15 games played). On the season, Nashville is 16-9-2 against Eastern Conference opponents and 11-2-0 against them on home ice.
Nashville holds an 11-5-(0)-2 edge in the all-time series against the Islanders, and has garnered points in 10 of 12 games since the start of the 2002-03 campaign, posting an 8-2-2 record. The Preds are 4-2-(0)-2 against the Islanders in Bridgestone Arena, having not lost a contest against them on home ice since April 11, 2002.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Mike Fisher, Roman Josi and Matt Cullen
What to Watch for: Stu and Willy's Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Morning Skate Update:
After a day off on Wednesday, the Preds hit the ice this morning at Bridgestone Arena ahead of tonight's contest with the Isles. Forward Eric Nystrom, who left Tuesday's game at New Jersey with a lower-body injury and did not return, was the only skater missing this morning. Head Coach Peter Laviolette called Nystrom day-to-day and said the forward continues to be evaluated.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis was paired with Mattias Ekholm during the skate. Laviolette said a decision as to whether or not Ellis would play tonight will be made this afternoon, but Nashville's bench boss called the defenseman day-to-day.
Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith
Wilson - Fisher - Neal
Cullen - Jarnkrok - Santorelli
Bourque - Gaustad - Beck
Josi - Weber
Jones - Franson
Ekholm - Ellis
Volchenkov - Bartley
New York Islanders Projected Lines:
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Grabner - Nielsen - Nelson
Kulemin - Strome - McDonald
Boulton - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Leddy - Boychuk
Hickey - Hamonic
de Haan - Visnovsky