(31-10-6) Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche (20-18-11)
8 P.M. | Pepsi Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators complete the second part of their sixth back-to-back set of games tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.
Friday's meeting will be the second of the week for the two teams, the Preds and Avs already played at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday. Nashville claimed a 4-3 overtime victory behind Craig Smith's overtime winner 2:46 into the extra session; Preds forward Mike Ribeiro registered three assists.
In their game on Thursday, the Preds held a 2-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues, but saw the home team tally three-straight goals to take the lead in the second period. The Blue held a 4-3 advantage to begin the final frame, but James Neal's goal knotted the contest at four apiece with under three minutes remaining. After a scoreless overtime, St. Louis claimed the contest's second point by prevailing in a shootout. Nashville forward Mike Fisher tallied twice and added an assist in the game to pass 500 career points in the NHL.
Tonight's host has not played since claiming a point in Tuesday's matchup with the Predators, Colorado sits fifth in the Central Division and are four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Mike Ribeiro continues to pace the Predators in points with 43, and the veteran center has also helped linemate Filip Forsberg set a number of rookie scoring records for the franchise. The first-year winger leads all NHL rookies in points (42) and in plus/minus at +25. Forsberg has already set the Predators record for points by a rookie and is now one tally away from tying Alex Radulov's mark of most goals (18) by a first-year Preds player.
Thursday, Mike Fisher tallied his 500th, 501st and 502nd points in the NHL, leaving Ribeiro and Colin Wilson as the next two Preds awaiting to achieve career milestones. Ribeiro is at 699 points and Colin Wilson is two points away from tying his career high (35 pts) set in 2011-12 and is three assists from 100 career helpers.
On the blue line, the Predators are led by their Captain Shea Weber, in goals, assists, points and in average time on ice (TOI) with 26:28. Roman Josi, Weber's defensive partner, isn't far behind in any statistical category, however. Josi logs 26:26 (TOI) per game and has eight goals, 23 assists and 31 points.
Veteran forwards Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla lead the Avs in points with 33 and 32, respectively (both players collected points in Tuesday's game versus the Preds). Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie round out the Top 5 in scoring for Colorado.
The previous two matchups between the Avs and Preds have featured four different goaltenders, with a possible fifth to be added Friday if Nashville's Marek Mazanec is slotted between the pipes in Nashville's second-straight night with a game. Semyon Varlomov is the No. 1 goalie in Colorado, with a 12-10-7 record on this season.
The Avalanche are 5-2-3 in their last 10 contests and hold a 12-9-3 home record (Colorado dropped a 3-0 decision to Nashville at the Pepsi Center on Dec. 9). The Predators enter Friday's game with a 12-8-5 road record and are 6-1-3 in their previous 10 games, but just 1-2-2 on the second half of back-to-backs. Tonight's game is Nashville's second stop in a three-game road trip that concludes in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.
Going back to Nov. 8, 2008, the Predators are 16-7-2 against the Avalanche.
Update from Denver:
The Preds did not hold a morning skate in Colorado in advance of their game against the Avalanche tonight.
Some thoughts from the team on facing the Avs:
Mike Ribeiro on what the Preds did well against Colorado just three days ago:
"I liked our shot attempts. I think we want to have a better start than we did in the last game [against Colorado], but after the first 10, 12 minutes of the game, we started skating, started shooting the puck and took control of the game. [We need to] be smart with the puck, don't turn the puck over and what we've been doing a lot this year is to just shoot the puck."
Shea Weber on preparing for Colorado:
"You're definitely fresh on what to expect [having played them three days ago]. We expect them to come out with a great effort tonight. They're a good team that plays really well in their building and it's going to be a big game for us."
Peter Laviolette if it's easier to prepare for a team that you've played earlier in the week:
"It is easier, I think for the guys, it's fresh in their mind. When you show the pre-scout, you can take 40 clips and cut it down to 22 because there's a good understanding of what [the Avalanche] are doing. It's so close that we've played them that it's an easy turnaround to get the guys prepared for tonight."
On what he liked from his team against Colorado on Tuesday:
"Offensively, we had a good attack at the net. I thought the zone time, the cycle game was really good. In the second period, we started to play that way, and we were still a little too loose defensively, but we tightened that up in the third period and played a real sharp, defensive game. We put our foot on the gas and utilized our defensemen at the points on the cycles and point shots. I thought we took control in the offensive zone in the third period."