A trip to Denver concludes a two-game trip this evening for the Nashville Predators when they meet the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. It's Nashville's second visit to the venue this season; the Preds came away with a 5-1 victory over the Avs on Nov. 1 in Colorado.
The Predators registered a season-high 42 shots on Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg, but were unable to beat Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck as they fell 3-0, including two empty-net goals given up. Juuse Saros started for the Preds in Winnipeg, stopping 21 shots.
Filip Forsberg leads Nashville with 16 points on the season, including 14 assists. P.K. Subban and Ryan Johansen have 14 points each while Viktor Arvidsson has deposited 13 points, including six goals. Nashville's leading goal scorer, James Neal, is currently on Injured Reserve and will not play tonight in Colorado. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 9-5-3 overall on the season, including the win against the Avalanche in November. Saros is 1-1-0 in his two starts with only two goals allowed.
The Avalanche (9-10-1) have points in three of their last four games, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Vancouver on Saturday night. Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avs with 15 points, followed by Matt Duchene with 13, including a team-high seven goals. Rene Bourque has also found the back of the net on seven occasions this season. Goaltender Calvin Pickard, who is 4-1-1 this season, will start tonight against the Predators.
Video: Brooks Bratten talks Preds return trip to Colorado
Morning Update: Winger Miikka Salomaki (Injured Reserve; upper-body) participated in the team's morning skate, as did all four of the recent call-ups from Milwaukee (AHL). Here is the Preds projected lineup based on today's skate.
As the Preds search for two points in the Mile High City before coming home, here are three things to watch for.
The Predators threw 42 pucks at the net on Sunday in Winnipeg, but they simply ran into a hot goaltender. They know they're not going to hit that mark every night, but getting as many shots as possible isn't something the Preds shy away from, knowing those chances will go in at some point.
"I think we'd win nine out of 10 of those games, but that was the one we didn't win," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "The quality chances were heavily in our favor, shots were heavily in our favor, everything was where we wanted to be, but we took our foot off the gas for 12-15 minute stretch in the second period and they ended up chipping in a goal. I'd look back at it, the score is 1-0, there's the difference in the game, but we had lots of chances."
Video: NSH Recap: Preds can't solve Hellebuyck in 3-0 loss
Avoiding the Lull:
The Predators spoke after Sunday's game - and again after practice Monday - about the stretch of time in the second period that allowed Winnipeg to tally their only even-strength goal of the game. It's an area the team is still paying attention to, but they're returning to a place where they saw arguably their best road effort of the season to date, and the focus will be on doing the same tonight.
"It was a solid, 60-minute effort; it was a big road win for us," defenseman Matt Irwin recalled. "We got contributions from everyone and everyone played hard for those full 60 minutes, so if we want to duplicate that, that's where we have to start."
Video: NSH@COL: Smith pots his second with top-shelf wrister
Rocky Mountain High:
The Preds have been able to find success at high altitude as of late, having won two consecutive games at Pepsi Center. They've scored five goals in each game, outscoring the Avs, 10-3 in those contests. Filip Forsberg has played a role in the success, earning multi-point games in each of his last four contests against Colorado. He has eight points (2g-6a) in that span. Forsberg has points in five straight against Colorado, while Craig Smith has points in four consecutive games versus the Avalanche.
Take It In:
Tonight's game comes with an 8 p.m. (CT) start, beginning on Fox Sports Tennessee with the Predators Live! pregame show at 7:30 with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. Pete Weber and Brent Peterson call the action on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network.