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Game Day: Penguins vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(3-4-0) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators (6-1-0)
  7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | #PITvsNSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
Tickets | Golden Saturday


The Nashville Predators are set to finish off their three-game homestand by hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Music City. It's a Golden Saturday at Bridgestone Arena, where the Preds will be sporting their gold helmets for the second time this season.

Nashville will be looking for their fourth consecutive victory as they face the Penguins in the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season. Pittsburgh shut out the Preds last season in Nashville by a 3-0 final before the Preds returned the favor in the Steel City with a 4-0 victory.

While the Preds are off to a 6-1-0 start, the Penguins are 3-4-0, and even though their record doesn't necessarily show it, the capability to put the puck in the net exists, a fact that Head Coach Peter Laviolette and the Predators are well aware of heading into tonight.

“Pittsburgh’s got a really good hockey team," Laviolette said. "They’re dangerous, they’re like Tampa Bay, [essentially] two first lines, good goaltending, they’ve got defensemen that can skate and move the puck and they’ve got some depth up front as well... We know what we’re up against, and it’s going to be a tough one.”

Former Pittsburgh forward James Neal is riding a four-game point streak for the Preds, scoring five goals and three assists during that span, including a helper on Mike Ribeiro's first tally of the season on Thursday against Anaheim.

Ribeiro is one of 13 Preds players to find the back of the net this season, while 16 have registered at least one point. Neal leads the club with eight points, followed by linemate Filip Forsberg, who has six (2g-4a). Ribeiro, Colin Wilson and Roman Josi each have five points, while Craig Smith has scored three times.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne carries a 5-1-0 record to go along with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. The Predators are averaging a team goals-against of 2.00 per game, which is tied for second in the NHL.

Pittsburgh is 3-2-0 in their last five outings but are only averaging 1.57 goals-per-game, weighing in at second-to-last in the League. Evgeni Malkin paces the Pens with five points (3g-2a), while fellow forwards Sidney Crosby (1g-2a) and offseason acquisition Phil Kessel (2g-1a) have three points apiece. Marc-Andre Fleury has played every game between the pipes for the Penguins, owning a 2.17 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.

Nashville is looking for their first win against Pittsburgh at Bridgestone Arena since Jan. 8, 2009, when they defeated the Penguins 5-3. All-time, the Preds are 10-8-3 against the Penguins.


Predators Game Day Video:

Preds Players: James Neal, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne


What to Watch for: Preds Web Team Breakdown


Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette


Projected Lineups:

Preds forward Calle Jarnkrok was absent from Saturday's morning skate, but is expected to play tonight.

Nashville Predators:

Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Fisher James Neal
Colin Wilson Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Gabriel Bourque Cody Hodgson Viktor Arvidsson
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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

Extra: (D) Victor Bartley


Pittsburgh Penguins:

Forwards
Pascal Dupuis Sidney Crosby Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Plotnikov Evgeni Malkin Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz Nick Bonino Daniel Sprong
David Perron Matt Cullen Bryan Rust
Defense
Ian Cole Kris Letang
Olli Maatta Rob Scuderi
Brian Dumoulin Ben LoveJoy

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Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury is the expected starter in net with Jeff Zatkoff serving as the backup.

Extra:
(F) Kevin Porter, (F) Bobby Farnham, (D) Adam Clendening, (F) Beau Bennett, (F) Eric Fehr

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