(4-2-0) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators (4-1-0)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #TBLvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
The Nashville Predators return home tonight after a three-game road trip to host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bridgestone Arena. It's the start of a three-game home stand for the Preds after they collected four out of a possible six points on their first excursion away from Music City on the season.
Much like the Predators, who are off to a 4-1-0 start, the Lightning own a 4-2-0 record on the young campaign, picking up where they left off after their appearance in the Stanley Cup Final this past spring.
The Preds are well aware of the task at hand, not only with Tampa Bay in town, but also the need to keep moving forward after returning from a successful trip.
“Any time you come off a good little road trip, you can’t get comfortable at home," forward James Neal said. "You've got to be on your toes and be ready. I know we will be and we've got three good teams coming in our building, so we’ll start with the first one and take on Tampa here. In their last game, they pulled one out, but I don’t think they played their best hockey, so they’ll be looking for a bounce-back game coming in our rink and we’ll be ready.”
Nashville has tallied the game's first goal in all five contests they've played, scoring within the first 10 minutes of the game on three occasions. On the contrary, the Preds have yet to allow a goal in the opening frame this season, outscoring the opposition 5-0.
Through the first five games of the season, 15 different Preds have registered at least one point and four different players have at least two goals. Defenseman Roman Josi is one of those players, leading the team offensively with five points (2g-3a). Forwards James Neal and Filip Forsberg each have four points to their credit, while Neal and Craig Smith are tied for the club lead in goals with three apiece.
Netminder Pekka Rinne is 3-1-0 and has allowed just six goals in four appearances this season, while Carter Hutton got the victory in his first start of the season, a 38-save performance against Ottawa on Saturday.
Forward Jonathan Drouin is atop the offensive statsheet for the Lightning with six points (1g-5a), and Steven Stamkos is just one point behind, four of those being goals. Eleven players on the Tampa Bay roster have at least three points through six games or less. Ben Bishop has gotten the nod for each of the Lightning's six contests, posting a 2.35 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.
Tonight marks the first of two meetings between the teams this season; Nashville has won six of their last seven games against the Lightning (6-1-0 record) and have not lost a game at home against them since Feb. 7, 2008 (2-1 OT). The last time Tampa won in regulation at Bridgestone Arena was Feb. 5, 2004 (5-2). All-time, the Preds are 9-8-3 against the Bolts.
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Mike Fisher, Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg
What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Defenseman Ryan Ellis was absent from Tuesday's morning skate following a maintenance day yesterday. Ellis left the Predators and Senators game in the third period on Saturday after blocking a shot. Forward Austin Watson and d-man Barret Jackman were both on the ice this morning after taking maintenance days yesterday, but neither player skated in their traditional places in the lineup as can be seen below.*
| ||Forwards || |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Fisher ||James Neal |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Ribeiro ||Craig Smith |
|Viktor Arvidsson ||Cody Hodgson ||Calle Jarnkrok |
|Eric Nystrom ||Paul Gaustad ||Gabriel Bourque |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Seth Jones |
|Victor Bartley ||Anthony Bitetto |
|Barret Jackman* ||Austin Watson* |
Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.
Extra: (D) Ryan Ellis
Tampa Bay Lightning:
| ||Forwards || |
|Jonathan Drouin ||Steven Stamkos ||Ryan Callahan |
|Ondrej Palat ||Tyler Johnson ||Nikita Kucherov |
|Alex Killorn ||Valtteri Filppula ||Erik Condra |
|Brian Boyle ||Vladislav Namestnikov ||J.T. Brown |
| ||Defense || |
|Victor Hedman ||Anton Stralman |
|Matt Carle ||Jason Garrison |
|Braydon Coburn ||Andrej Sustr |
Goaltenders: Ben Bishop is the expected starter in net with Kevin Poulin serving as the backup.
Extra: (D) Nikita Nesterov (suspended)