The Nashville Predators close out a two-game trip tonight in Raleigh with a date against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. It's the second and final meeting between the two clubs this season - the Preds and Canes last met on Nov. 5 in Nashville, a 3-2 shootout win for Carolina.
The Predators have won three straight, including a 2-1 overtime win in Washington on Thursday night. James Neal scored for the third consecutive contest, Viktor Arvidsson tallied the OT winner and Pekka Rinne earned the win in his 500th NHL game.
Ryan Johansen collected the primary assist on Arvidsson's overtime goal and continues to lead the Preds in helpers with 43 and points with 55. Filip Forsberg is tops in goals with 28 and has 53 points to his name. Arvidsson has 25 goals and 51 points while Neal has found the back of the net 21 times. Rinne has gone 27-16-8 in net and Juuse Saros is 8-6-3.
Carolina (29-27-12) has points in five straight, including a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Thursday. Jeff Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 23 goals and 46 points, followed by Viktor Rask with 41 and Sebastian Aho with 39. Aho has 20 goals on the season; Rask has added 16. Cam Ward is 23-20-10 for Carolina; Eddie Lack is 4-5-2.
Video: Preds face Hurricanes looking for fourth-straight win
Update: Forward Colin Wilson, who missed Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, is expected to return to the lineup tonight in Carolina. For a full look at the projected lineup, click here.
As the Preds look for their fourth win in as many tries, here are three things to watch for:
A game against Carolina may not come with the same hype as one against League-leading Washington, but the Predators certainly won't take tonight's opponent lightly. The Canes beat a Minnesota team with 92 points in their last outing and took three out of four points against a desperate Islanders club before that. Carolina has only lost 10 games in regulation at home all season long.
"We've just got to make sure we're ready to work," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We're playing a team that's playing really well right now; they haven't lost in regulation in five games, and they have so many numbers in the positive if you look at their game. They're capable of beating anybody, so we have to make sure we're ready to do the work."
Thursday's game at Washington saw a slight mix on the forward lines for the first time in a while for coach Laviolette. Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg were separated from Viktor Arvidsson and James Neal skated with Mike Fisher during the third period against the Capitals.
Forward Colin Wilson missed Thursday's game win a lower-body injury, and his status could change who is in and who is out tonight in Carolina. Look to see if Laviolette continues to experiment or if he'll go back to his trusted trios.
(Alternate) Captain Clutch:
James Neal scored for the third consecutive contest on Thursday, extending his point streak to five games. Two of Neal's last three goals have been game-winners and his success directly correlates to the team's results - Nashville is 14-3-2 this season when Neal finds the back of the net.
Take It In:
Tonight's game from PNC Arena comes with a 6 p.m. CT puck drop; pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Tennessee and 5 p.m. on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network.