The Nashville Predators make their only trip to the province of Alberta to round out the work week, starting tonight in Calgary to face the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It's the first of three meetings between the two; Calgary will make their way to Nashville twice before the season concludes.
Currently in the midst of a five-game trip, Nashville is 1-1-0, most recently suffering a 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday night. The result snapped a three-game win streak for the Preds and slots them one point out of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference heading into Wednesday's action.
Nashville's offensive statistics remain unchanged from Tuesday's game, with Ryan Johansen leading the Preds in scoring with 30 points, followed by Filip Forsberg with 27 points on the season. Captain Mike Fisher has 26 points, including 12 goals, and Viktor Arvidsson has 25 points. James Neal leads the team with 14 goals; Forsberg has 11. Defensemen P.K. Subban and Roman Josi have not played on the trip and both remain on Injured Reserve. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 16-12-6 on the season; Juuse Saros is 4-3-1.
Calgary (24-20-3) has gone 4-3-1 since the New Year began, including a 5-2 win over Florida on Tuesday night. Mikael Backlund leads the team with 14 goals and 32 points, followed by rookie forward Matthew Tkachuk with 29 points. Johnny Gaudreau has 10 goals and 28 points on the season; Sean Monahan has tallied 13 times. Chad Johnson is 16-10-1 in goal for the Flames this season; Brian Elliott is 8-10-2.
Video: Nashville faces Calgary for the first of three games
Morning Update: P.K. Subban and Colin Wilson - who both remain on Injured Reserve - participated in an optional morning skate on Thursday. Mattias Ekholm and Colton Sissons returned to the ice today after missing yesterday's practice.
See Nashville's projected lineup here.
As the Preds look for two points as they begin a back-to-back in Alberta, here are three things to watch for:
Fourth Line Force:
Together now for two games, the trio of Derek Grant centering Cody McLeod and Harry Zolnierczyk has provided something almost every time they've been on the ice for the Preds, including a goal on Saturday in Colorado and plenty of physical play and offensive pressure. McLeod has been especially disruptive, adding another element to Nashville's game that has made a noticeable difference when the line is on the ice.
That's The Way It Is:
There's nothing the Predators can do about it now. After a controversial call on Tuesday night in Vancouver that saw a goal disallowed in an eventual 1-0 loss, Nashville knows they have to move on, and that's exactly what they'll plan on doing tonight in Calgary.
"It's tough to forget about," defenseman Anthony Bitetto said. "I thought we played well, we did a lot of good things [on Tuesday] and the steps we've taken, I think that was another step in the right direction… It's frustrating, but today's a new day and we have to get ready for the Flames. That game is not going to change, we have a loss in the column and that's the only way we can look at it."
Keep It Loose:
Wednesday's practice was focused, but loose, for a group that feels there's plenty to like in their game as their trip continues.
"I think the energy, the fun we're having and the work ethic is good," Bitetto said. "I think every guy is skating, we're moving our feet and when you move your feet at this level, good things are going to happen… It was a team effort in Vancouver and unfortunately we didn't get the win, but if we play like that the majority of nights, we'll be successful."
Take It In:
Tonight's game in Calgary comes with an 8 p.m. CT puck drop and can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee, beginning with Predators Live! at 7:30 p.m. You can also listen to the action on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network.