The Nashville Predators return home tonight to host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in their lone visit to Bridgestone Arena this season. It's the second weekend in a row the Preds have played in a back-to-back situation; Nashville fell 5-3 to Detroit last night.
Preds Captain Mike Fisher leads his club with three goals - all on the power play - and four points on the season. Ryan Johansen also has four points - all assists - and P.K. Subban has two power-play goals and a helper. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has started three of Nashville's four games this season, including last night in Detroit.
Pittsburgh is 3-1-1 through their first five games of the campaign with Evgeni Malkin leading the offensive charge. The winger has two goals and five points thus far; Phil Kessel and former Pred Patric Hornqvist have also found the back of the net twice. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been in net for all five Penguins outings this season and carries a 2.75 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
The Predators did not hold a morning skate on Saturday. Preds General Manager David Poile addressed the media and says the team is dealing with a bout of food poisoning and some players are affected. Poile says the team will continue to evaluate the situation as the day progresses to determine who will be in tonight's lineup.
As the Preds look to slow down the high-powered Pens, here are three things to watch.
As was the case last weekend, the Preds are set to enter the second half of a back-to-back. A quick start could be imperative tonight for Nashville, especially at home. When the Preds went into Chicago last Saturday night, they surrendered three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. The group would certainly like to correct that, and getting going in their home barn from the opening puck drop could pay dividends.
Video: The Preds web team talks about Nashville's matchup
Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby has not played a game this season due to a concussion and is yet to resume practicing with the full team. Crosby's absence will undoubtedly help the Preds when it comes to defending Pittsburgh's offensive attack, but only so much. When Crosby is out of the lineup, fellow centerman Evgeni Malkin tends to pick up his game, and he's done that so far this season to lead the Pens in scoring. Expect Malkin to see plenty of Roman Josi in an effort to contain the star forward.
Video: Neal, Josi and Subban talk about Nashville's game
Other than the play of goaltender Pekka Rinne, the brightest spot for the Predators this season has been their power play results. Eight of Nashville's 10 goals thus far have come with the man advantage, and their 53.3 percent conversion rate is second in the League. Pittsburgh's penalty kill is 18th in the NHL, an area where the Preds could find success once more.
Video: Poile and Laviolette address the media
Take It In:
Tonight's game can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee at 7 p.m. (CT), with the Predators Live pregame show, presented by Nissan, beginning at 6:30 p.m., with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. On the radio side, Pete Weber and Brent Peterson are in the booth on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.
When You Go:
Fans can enjoy a Halloween-themed Plaza Party presented by Lee Company beginning at 5 p.m. on the Bridgestone Arena plaza. Doors for the 7 p.m. contest open at 5:30 p.m.