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Game Day: Preds at Ducks

The Preds Begin a Five-Game Road Trip in Anaheim, Their First Visit Since a Game Seven Victory

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten /

The Nashville Predators begin their five-game road trip tonight with a date against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center, their first visit to Orange County since defeating Anaheim in Game Seven of Round One last spring, the first Game Seven victory in franchise history.

Tonight's matchup won't mean quite as much when all is said and done, but for the Preds, starting the western excursion with a positive outcome is something undoubtedly on their minds.

Nashville (2-3-0) is coming off of a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night, a contest that saw the Preds score four goals in the second period, and all at even strength, which has been an area of concern early in the season. Forwards Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson each tallied twice in the game, and rookie netminder Juuse Saros, who has since been returned to the AHL, recorded his first NHL win.

The Predators are led offensively by P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg, who have five points each. Captain Mike Fisher and Arvidsson have each tallied on three occasions, while Subban and Fiala have two goals apiece.

Anaheim (2-3-2) played last night in San Jose, falling 2-1 to the Sharks in overtime. Ryan Getzlaf, who got off to a slow start last season, leads the Ducks with eight points (1g-7a) through the team's first seven games.

Note: Getzlaf exited Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury and is a game-time decision, while goaltender Jonathan Bernier also left early and is day-to-day.

Video: Preds return to Anaheim for first time since playoffs

As the Preds look to channel their postseason success in Honda Center, here are three things to watch for:

Five Aside:

The Predators power play has been dynamic through their first five games, tops in the NHL with a 47.4 percent conversion rate. However, much ado was made over their play at even strength, particularly their lack of goal scoring without the man advantage. Nashville found a way to break through on Saturday night, scoring four goals in the second period, all 5-on-5.

Head Coach Peter Laviolette joked after the game that he was pretty sure his club wasn't going to go the entire season without finding the back of the net at full strength, but all kidding aside, the bench boss has seen some positives as of late on the subject.

"There were obviously some games that I didn't like the way we played, but in the games I thought we were playing hard and doing the right things, there were lots of 5-on-5 chances," Laviolette said. "They weren't going in the back of the net, so from there you continue to execute and get it done, but I do think we've had lots of chances. It's nice to get some results 5-on-5; we'll continue to push that envelope, try to score some goals."

Usual Suspects:

When one thinks of the Anaheim Ducks, the names Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are usually two names that come to the forefront. The pair have been on their game in the early going, leading the team in scoring with eight and five points, respectively. Not to be overlooked, blueliners Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen have also posted points with regularity through their first seven games.

The Preds will be catching the Ducks on a second half of a back-to-back for the home team, a potential chance to pounce early and build a lead.

Video: NSH@DET: Subban one-times power-play goal for tie

Road Warriors:

As the Preds play their first of five games away from Bridgestone Arena over the next 10 days, it would be ideal for the club to start with a notch in the win column. No doubt coach Laviolette will have his team ready to go. Sure it's only five games into the season, but the group knows they have more to give, and beginning the trip with a "W" could make all the difference.

"We're not where we want to be, so we have to be better," Laviolette said. "These games are important, and I think the guys realize that. You have to go out there and work, win the hockey games, put them in the win column and climb in the standings."

Projected Lineups: 

Predators Projected Lineup
Viktor Arvidsson Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Kevin Fiala
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Craig Smith
Calle Jarnkrok Colton Sissons Austin Watson
Roman Josi Ryan Ellis  
P.K. Subban Mattias Ekholm  
Yannick Weber Matt Carle Matt Irwin
Pekka Rinne Marek Mazanec  
Anaheim Ducks Projected Lineup
Nick Ritchie Ryan Getzlaf* Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano Ryan Kesler Jakob Silfverberg
Ryan Garbutt Antoine Vermette Chris Wagner
Joseph Cramarossa Michael Sgarbossa Jared Boll
Clayton Stoner Sami Vatanen  
Cam Fowler Josh Manson  
Shea Theodore Kevin Bieksa  
John Gibson Dustin Tokarski Jonathan Bernier

Take It In:

This evening's 9:30 p.m. (CT) start from Honda Center in Anaheim can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee, with the Predators Live pregame show presented by Nissan beginning at 9 p.m. with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. On the radio dial, Pete Weber and Brent Peterson have the call on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.

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