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Game Day: Jets vs. Preds

by Nashville Predators / Nashville Predators

(32-21-12) Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators (41-18-7)
  6 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 5:30 P.M.
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The Nashville Predators are at home to face the Winnipeg Jets for the fifth and final time in this 2014-15 regular season, tonight at Bridgestone Arena. It's a special 6 p.m. CT start time in Smashville as the club hosts its second Hockey Fights Cancer night of the season.

The Preds fell 4-3 on Thursday night to the Islanders, their fifth-consecutive loss, marking the team's longest losing streak of the season.

Colin Wilson tallied his 20th goal of the season on Thursday versus the Islanders, the first time in his career that he eclipsed the 20-goal mark. Wilson is the Preds’ fourth player to hit the plateau (James Neal, Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith), putting the team two shy of the franchise record, six 20-goal scorers (set in 2006-07). His 20 goals are four more than his previous high (16, 2010-11).

Wilson’s 40 points (20g-20a) are also career high, besting his previous high of 35 points (15g-20a, 68 gp in 2011-12). The Greenwich, Conn., native is in the NHL’s Top 25 in game-winning goals (five) and leads Nashville in “Frosty Goals” (fourth goal of the game, clinching Wendy’s Frostys for fans in attendance) this season (3).

Since becoming a father for the first time on Feb. 27, forward Mike Fisher has recorded three points (2g-1a) in four games which improves on his recent stretch to seven points (3g-4a) in his last nine games. After missing the first 21 games of the season due to an Achilles tendon injury sustained during the offseason, Fisher has recorded 35 points (16g-19a) in 45 games played, a .78 point-per-game pace. The Peterborough, 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.

Craig Smith’s goal to tie the game at three in the third period on Thursday was his 11th point (7g-4a) in his last 10 games. With the goal, Smith sits three back from tying his career goal output (24 goals, 79 gp in 2013-14). The Madison, Wis., native recorded his 20th goal of the season in his 62nd game this season (Feb. 26 vs. Minnesota), improving on last season, where he hit the 20-goal plateau in his 77th game (April 10, 2014).

Prior to departing Winnipeg for Nashville on Friday, Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice announced that the team will be without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien for two-to-four weeks due to injury. Maurice also stated that forward Bryan Little isn't expected to play in the first half of Winnipeg's road trip, likely ruling him out of tonight's game against the Preds.

Entering into Friday night's action, Winnipeg was hanging onto the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 76 points. Captain Andrew Ladd leads the way offensively with 52 points on the season, but absences from Winnipeg's second and fourth-leading scorers in Little and Byfuglien will leave holes in the Jets lineup.

Winnipeg has gone 2-2-1 in their last five and are 15-10-7 away from home this season. The Jets are also 1-3-0 this season against the Preds.

Nashville has earned a point in 14 of 18 games against the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers since the 2005-06 season, going 12-4-2 in that span. At home, Nashville is 9-3-0 against Winnipeg/Atlanta since the 1999-00 season.

The Jets visit to Nashville on Saturday night is only the Preds’ fourth matchup against a fellow Central Division team since the beginning of February, all of which have been on home ice. Nashville last faced a Central team on the road in back-to-back matchups against the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 29 and 30. Overall this season, Nashville is 15-5-3 and 9-2-0 on home ice against Central Division foes.

Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Colin Wilson, Taylor Beck and Ryan Ellis


What to Watch for: Terry and Willy's Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette



Morning Skate Update:

The Predators did not hold a morning skate prior to this evening's contest at Bridgestone Arena. Here are tonight's projected lines, based on yesterday's practice:

Nashville Projected Lines:

Forwards:


Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith

Wilson - Fisher - Neal

Cullen - Jarnkrok - Santorelli

Bourque - Gaustad - Beck

Defensemen:

Josi - Weber

Jones - Franson

Ekholm - Ellis

Goaltenders:

Pekka Rinne*

Carter Hutton

*Projected Starter


Winnipeg Projected Lines:

Forwards:


Ladd - Scheifele - Wheeler

Tlusty - O'Dell - Stafford

Stempniak - Lowry - Frolik

Thorburn - Slater - Peluso

Defensemen:

Enstrom - Myers

Stuart - Trouba

Pardy - Harrison

Goaltenders:

Michael Hutchinson*

Ondrej Pavelec

*Probable Starter
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