(6-14-2) Edmonton Oilers vs. Nashville Predators (14-5-2)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The GameTickets
For the third and final time this season, the Nashville Predators are set to meet the Edmonton Oilers, this time for a Thanksgiving night showdown in Music City. The Preds have won two-straight contests in a shootout, including Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton enters Thursday's game having lost seven straight and are just 2-7-1 in their last 10 outings.
Tuesday night's win over the Kings saw Preds Captain Shea Weber notch his 223rd career assist, all with the Predators, to become the franchise's all-time leader in assists by a defenseman. Weber passed former Preds D-man Kimmo Timonen to accomplish the feat and now sits third overall in assists in club history. The Captain leads the team in points by a defenseman on the season (6g-7a-13pts) and goals (6). Weber also leads the club in hits with 50 and is second on the team in blocked shots (46).
Nashville forward Matt Cullen became the oldest player in franchise history on Tuesday at 38 years, 23 days old, surpassing former Pred Hal Gill's mark of 38 years, 21 days. Cullen led the club in the faceoff circle against the Kings, going 5-for-6 on the night. His shooting percentage (17.6) is second best on the team, behind only Mike Ribeiro.
Pekka Rinne has all 14 of Nashville's wins between the pipes this season, tying him for first in the NHL in victories. His goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.927) are both in the Top 5 in the League. With six stops in the shootout on Tuesday, Rinne has now stopped 16-of-18 shootout attempts (.875 save percentage), a mark that leads all NHL goaltenders that have faced at least eight shots in the shootout this season.
The Edmonton Oilers have struggled of late, going 0-5-0 in their last five and are just 2-6-1 away from home. Incredibly, the Oil are also without a win against a fellow Western Conference opponent, now 22 games into the season. Jordan Eberle leads the club in points with 15 (4g-11a) while Taylor Hall has tallied eight goals, but that offensive production hasn't been enough to overcome below-average numbers in net. Both Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth carry goals-against averages of over 3.32 and save percentages under .893.
Tonight marks the second year in a row that the Preds and Oilers have battled in Nashville on Thanksgiving. All-time, the Predators are 32-23-(2)-4 against Edmonton and 16-12-(2)-1 on home ice. Nashville defeated the Oilers just 16 days ago at Bridgestone Arena by a 3-2 final. The Preds also bested the Oil in Edmonton, 4-1 back on Oct. 29. The Preds are 8-1-1 this season in Music City.
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown:
Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal
Wilson - Jarnkrok - Smith
Jokinen - Fisher - Roy
Nystrom - Gaustad - Beck
*Cullen did not skate, is currently listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.Defensemen:
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Ellis
Volchenkov - Jones
*expected to start in goalEdmonton Projected Lines:
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Perron - Arcobello - Purcell
Gazdic - Draisaitl - Yakupov
Hendricks - Gordon - Pinizzotto
Nikitin - Fayne
Ference - Petry
Marincin - Schultz
*expected to start in goal
Mike Fisher on returning to the Preds lineup:
“I’m excited; it’s been a long road. I just want to come in and contribute and get back to the way I can play right away.”
“I feel good. The boot helps protect this [achilles] injury. You can get back in hockey a lot faster than in running sports, which is good. It’s just going to be about timing and getting game-like situations back. I’ve been battling the last few weeks here pretty hard, so I’ve tested it. I’m probably going to get soreness here and there throughout the year but that’s just going to be part of it.”
Olli Jokinen on Fisher returning:
“He was always hard to play against. I played against him over the years a lot and he works hard, he does all the little things right. He’s been working really hard to come back in the lineup and finally he’s going to play this year. It’s a great addition for our team to get him back, it feels like a top-end player in the lineup, so it’s great.”Peter Laviolette on Mike Fisher returning:
“I think just having his presence in the room and on the ice is going to be big for our club. He’s an integral part of the leadership and the on-ice play, so we’re going to ease him back in tonight."
Laviolette on facing the Oilers, a team that has lost seven-straight games:
"These games for me become scarier than maybe a game with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have our attention just because they've won a couple of championships and had success. I am always concerned about teams that have lost a few games in a row or are not where they want to be. They have a lot of talent over there. They play an aggressive style and an aggressive system and that's when you can get stung by the bee. We've got to be sharp with what we're doing."