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Game Day: Panthers vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(11-9-4) Florida Panthers vs. Nashville Predators (13-7-4)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #FLAvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | Subway Student Rush


The Nashville Predators close out their three-game set at Bridgestone Arena tonight by hosting the Florida Panthers. It's the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season, and it's been awhile since the Panthers found success in Music City.

The Preds enter tonight's contest with a 7-2-2 record at home against Florida, including a nine-game point streak against them (7-0-(2)-0). The last time the Florida Panthers won a game in Nashville was Dec. 11, 1999 (4-2), a span of 15 years, 11 months and 22 days.

Florida would certainly like to reverse that trend, and they come into Nashville on a three-game winning streak of their own, including a 3-1 defeat of the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

The Predators were also victorious in their last outing, a 5-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes. Filip Forsberg tallied twice for the Preds in the third period, posting his second multi-goal performance, and fourth-career, three-point night in the process.

Preds forward Mike Fisher left Tuesday's game against the Coyotes with a lower-body injury and did not return. Fisher was placed on Injured Reserve by the club on Wednesday and will miss the next four games, including tonight's contest. Fisher will then be re-evaluated next week.

James Neal leads the Preds with 10 goals and 18 points. Half of Neal's goals have come in the third period, including an empty-net marker on Tuesday. Forsberg has 16 points (5g-11a), followed by defenseman Roman Josi with 15 points (4g-11a). Captain Shea Weber, who recorded three assists in a game for the sixth time in his career on Tuesday, has tallied six goals this season.

Cody Hodgson, Seth Jones and Craig Smith all have at least a point in three of their last four games against the Panthers. Pekka Rinne is 11-5-4 on the season for the Preds with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

The 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr leads the Panthers with 18 points on the season. Jagr, who also paces Florida with eight goals, is the NHL's fourth-highest scorer all-time with 1,820 career points. Jussi Jokinen has six goals and 17 points, while Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad have potted seven goals each. Roberto Luongo is 9-8-3 between the pipes on the campaign with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

The Preds have points in five-straight games against the Panthers (4-0-1 record), including the last three games which have gone to a shootout (2-1 record). Filip Forsberg has scored the shootout-winner in the last two contests. All-time, the Preds have an 11-7-4 record against the Panthers.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: Roman Josi, Cody Hodgson and Mattias Ekholm


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The Predators did not hold morning skate on Thursday, below is the team's projected lineup based on their practice lines yesterday afternoon.

Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Viktor Arvidsson Calle Jarnkrok James Neal
Cody Hodgson Colton Sissons m. Salomaki/C. Wilson
Eric Nystrom Cody Bass Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is expected to start in net tonight with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.

Extra:
(F) Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body), (F) Paul Gaustad (IR; upper-body), (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (D) Anthony Bitetto


Florida Panthers:

The Panthers held an optional morning skate on Thursday. Forward Nick Bjugstad is not expected to play tonight while d-man Dmitry Kulikov (IR) will play in one of Florida's next two games.

Forwards
Brandon Pirri Aleksander Barkov Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen Vincent Trochek Jonathan Huberdeau
Logan Shaw Dave Bolland Reilly Smith
Quinton Howden Derek MacKenzie Connor Brickley
Defense
Brian Campbell Aaron Ekblad
Erik Gudbranson Willie Mitchell
Steven Kampfer Dylan Olsen

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Goaltenders: Roberto Luongo is expected to start in net tonight with Al Montoya serving as the backup.

Extra:
(D) Dmitry Kulikov (IR), (F) Shawn Thornton, (D) Alex Petrovic, (F) Marc Savard

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