After a quick trip home, the Nashville Predators are back on the road for a two-game trip, beginning tonight in Washington D.C., against the Capitals. It's the second and final meeting of the season between the two clubs; the Preds topped the Caps by a 5-2 final at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 25.
Nashville has won two straight, including a 5-4 overtime victory on Monday night against Winnipeg. James Neal potted the winner in OT, while Austin Watson, Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen also got on the scoreboard. Pekka Rinne collected the win in net, his 26th of the season.
Johansen continues to lead the Preds in scoring with 54 points, including 42 helpers. Forsberg is the team's top goal scorer with 28 on the season and is only one point behind Johansen with 53 in total. Viktor Arvidsson has 24 goals and 50 points, while Neal has 20 goals and Roman Josi has contributed 42 points from the blue line. Rinne, who is one game away from 500 for his NHL career, is 26-16-8 in goal; Juuse Saros has gone 8-6-3 this season.
Washington (45-17-7) recently lost four straight but bounced back with a 4-2 win over Minnesota on Tuesday, as they continue to lead the NHL in points with 97. Nicklas Backstrom has 50 assists and 71 points on the season, followed by Alex Ovechkin with 28 goals and 58 points. Evgeny Kuznetsov has 53 points to his credit; T.J. Oshie has 26 goals and 45 points for the Caps. Braden Holtby has posted a 35-11-5 record between the pipes; Philipp Grubauer is 10-6-2.
Video: The Preds try for a season sweep of the Capitals
Update: Colin Wilson (lower-body injury) is not expected to play tonight. For a look at Nashville's projected lineup, click here.
As the Preds look to keep their win streak going against the League-leading Capitals, here are three things to watch for:
When Washington selected Filip Forsberg in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, it looked as though the Caps had added another piece to an offensive juggernaut for years to come. But Forsberg never played in Washington, instead being dealt to Nashville at the 2013 Trade Deadline, and the rest is history.
Since then, Forsberg seems to have a little extra in the tank when he faces his former club. The Swede has nine points (5g-4a) in five career games against the Capitals and is on a four-game point streak against Washington. Plus, Forsberg has scored 12 goals in his last 11 games, and owns 18 points (12g-6a) during that stretch.
Both Ryan Johansen and James Neal have goals in consecutive games, a good sign for the Preds as they head down the final stretch of the regular season. Johansen owns 14 points (3g-11a) in his last 11 games, while Neal is riding a four-game point streak of his own, including back-to-back game-winners. Nashville is 11-0-0 this season when Johansen finds the back of the net and 13-3-2 when Neal does the same.
Department of Defense:
The Preds have found ways to put the puck in the net more often than not in recent memory, but Head Coach Peter Laviolette made it clear he wasn't necessarily pleased with his club's defensive efforts in their last game against Winnipeg, particularly in the second period, when he said the team "fell apart." However, things tightened up in the third period, leading to an eventual victory. Nashville will certainly be tested on the defensive side of the puck again tonight against Backstrom, Ovechkin and the like.
Take It In:
Tonight's game comes with a 6 p.m. CT puck drop from Verizon Center with pregame festivities beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Tennessee and 5 p.m. on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.