A five-game homestand continues tonight as the Nashville Predators welcome the Florida Panthers to town to start a two-game set. The Preds and Panthers have already met twice in South Florida this season, including a dramatic, 6-5 OT win for Nashville back in early February.
The Predators had won four of five games before Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to Carolina. Now, Nashville will look to regroup at home before embarking on an eight-game road trip - but the Panthers, one of the top teams in the division, are up first.
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Prior to Tuesday's game, the Preds announced defenseman Ryan Ellis (upper-body, 4-6 weeks) and forward Luke Kunin (lower-body, 2-4 weeks) had been placed on injured reserve. Forward Ryan Johansen was placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list and missed Tuesday's game.
Additionally, Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, who left Tuesday's game following the first period, did not practice on Wednesday and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Injuries are inevitable over the course of an NHL season - especially one with a truncated schedule - and at the moment the Predators are dealing with their most significant bout of absences in 2021.
"Luke Kunin was really playing well, so it's unfortunate that he's out of the lineup," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. "I thought his last three or four games were really to the identity we want him to play with, so it's unfortunate, but he should be back shortly. Then, obviously with Ryan [Ellis], Ryan's a real important player to our team and plays a lot of big minutes, a lot of important roles, our assistant captain, so it's unfortunate that we have both of those guys out.
"We're not looking for anyone to step up and take their roll over, it's just important that the guys that come in and play and get opportunities that they play to their identities. When you have guys out of your lineup, it's about filling some of the minutes that they play in important situations with other players. That's part of what any season is about, and I know coming into this season, we figured there were going to be injuries in the short season. A lot of guys are out because it's such a condensed schedule, they may miss more games than they normally would, so, next man up."
Video: Coach Hynes on Saros's injury and better starts
The Good Guys:
Calle Jarnkrok and Mattias Ekholm both scored in the third period for the Predators in their loss to Carolina, and Pekka Rinne made 15 saves in relief after taking over for Saros following the first period. Forward Tanner Jeannot also made his NHL debut for the Preds on Tuesday night.
Filip Forsberg leads the Preds in scoring with nine goals and 19 points, followed by Roman Josi (2g-11a) with 13 points and Mikael Granlund (4g-5a) with nine points. Calle Jarnkrok has five goals on the season; Ekholm, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Eeli Tolvanen and Colton Sissons each have three. Rinne is now 5-7-0 in net with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Video: Tanner Jeannot looks back on NHL debut with Preds
Florida has lost two-straight games - both in extra time - to Carolina, including a 3-2 overtime loss on Monday. Jonathan Huberdeau (8g-16a) leads the club with 24 points, followed by Aleksander Barkov (8g-14a) with 22 points and Patric Hornqvist (9g-9a) with 18 points. Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano have seven goals apiece; Aaron Ekblad has found the back of the net six times. Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-2-2 in net for Florida, while Chris Dreidger is 7-2-2.
The Predators are 15-14-(3)-2 all-time against the Panthers, including an 8-5-(2)-1 record at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators are 1-1-0 in two games vs. the Panthers this season, earning the win in the first half of their back-to-back set in Florida on Feb. 4.
Nashville is 2-2-1 in its last five and 3-6-1 in its last 10 games against Florida, and the Predators are 1-3-1 in their last five home meetings with the Panthers; prior to this current five-game stretch, Nashville won six straight over Florida at Bridgestone Arena from 2007-14.
Notables Versus Florida:
Filip Forsberg has 11 points (3g-8a) in 13 career games against Florida following his five-point (2g-3a) performance Feb. 4. Roman Josi has 13 points (6g-7a) in 16 career games vs. Florida, including nine points (5g-4a) in his last nine contests against the Panthers.
Matt Duchene is operating at nearly a point-per-game pace against the Panthers in his career, recording 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 21 contests. He's picked up six multi-point outings vs. Florida, including two three-point efforts.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for tonight's 7 p.m. CT puck drop from Nashville begins on FOX Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show hosted by Lyndsay Rowley and Terry Crisp. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6 p.m. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV