(31-10-5) Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (29-13-4)
7 P.M. | Scottrade Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators are back on the road tonight, set for their fifth and final meeting this season against Central Division foe St. Louis.
Nashville and St. Louis are the first and second-ranked teams in the division, respectively, but the Preds have gotten the best of their counterparts so far in 2014-15, posting a 3-1-0 record against the Blues through four contests.
The Predators are coming off of a 4-3 overtime win against Colorado on Tuesday night, their 20th victory this season by just one goal.
Mike Ribeiro tallied his third three-point game of the season on Tuesday against the Avalanche to take sole possession of the team lead in points with 42. Ribeiro now has 25 points in his last 24 games, and his 32 assists lead the Preds. The forward is tied for sixth overall in the NHL in points and he has one more point than he tallied in 80 games played last season.
Filip Forsberg potted his team-leading 16th goal of the season on Tuesday to move within three of passing Alexander Radulov for most goals scored by a rookie in franchise history. Already this season, the Ostervalla, Sweden, native has set franchise records for assists by a rookie, points by a rookie and consecutive games with a point by a rookie. Forsberg leads all NHL rookies in points with 41.
Preds Captain Shea Weber, who blasted a 108.5 mph shot at the NHL All-Star Break, recorded two assists on Tuesday to push his point total to six in his past seven games and nine in his last 12 outings. This season, Weber leads Nashville defensemen in goals, assists and points (10g-22a-32pts).
Mike Fisher, who has 18 points in 22 games this season, is just one point away from 500 for his NHL career.
Averaging over a point per game this season, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko leads the way offensively for the opposition. Tarasenko has 24 goals and 47 points in 46 games this season, leading the team in both categories. Forward Alexander Steen (40 pts) and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (39 pts) also contribute regularly on the scoresheet.
While Brian Elliott is likely to get the start in net for St. Louis against Nashville, stealing some of the spotlight is another Blues goaltender who's set to announce his retirement on Thursday. Martin Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts, joined the Blues in December to act as a stop gap while Elliott was injured. With Elliott back in the lineup, Brodeur is expected to join the front office in St. Louis.
The Preds have earned points in 15 of 18 Central Division games this season (13-3-2). With 13 wins against the Central, Nashville has surpassed its total win number against the division last season.
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown:
Morning Skate Update:
Injured goaltender Pekka Rinne joined the team for the morning skate in St. Louis. The NHL's wins leader took turns in one of the Predators nets with netminder Marek Mazanec. Rinne (sprained knee) remains on the three to five week timetable set on Jan. 15
"He looked good out there," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Rinne. "He's still getting better, we want be slow with it and make sure that he's 100 percent, but certainly to get him on the ice and get him involved in our practice, that's a positive sign."
Carter Hutton and Brian Elliott have been annouced as the starting goalies for tonight's game.Nashville Morning Skate Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith
Wilson - Fisher - Neal
Cullen - Jarnkrok - Bourque
Nystrom - Gaustad - Jokinen
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Jones
Bartley - VolchenkovGoaltenders:
Pekka Rinne*Probable Starter
Projected St. Louis Lines:
Steen - Backes - Oshie
Berglund - Lehtera - Tarasenko
Schwartz - Stastny - Jaskin
Ott - Goc - ReavesDefensemen:
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Gunnarsson - Shattenkirk
Jackman - ColeGoaltenders:
Jake Allen*Probable Starter
Quotables:James Neal on being 3-1-0 against the Blues this season:
"I think just being prepared, knowing that you're going to have a tough night; you're going up against a good team, but I think if we put pucks to the net and go there, obviously that's something that's helped us win hockey games throughout the course of the year and definitely against St. Louis."
Carter Hutton on facing St. Louis for the last time this season:
"We know that every game in our division and in our conference is huge. Obviously with St. Louis, we've had some games with the back and forth. We match up pretty well with them. We both have tenacious play, we're both very aggressive teams. We're excited, this is always a tough building to play in, so we're pumped to be here and ready to keep it going."Peter Laviolette on games against the Blues this season:
"I like the way we played in the loss in here [in November]. We beat them in the first game [in St. Louis] and we came in a week later, and I'm sure they were a little bit more dialed in to make sure that they had their game. I thought they played a real hard game. I liked the way our guys played too, it just didn't happen that night. I think sometimes in sports, and certainly in hockey, you can play a good game, you can be happy with the way you play the game and just not be happy with the results. That's the way we were in that loss, and [the Blues] could probably say the same in a couple of their losses [against Nashville]. They've been good games, they've been hard fought, and I would expect the same tonight."
Sights from St. Louis: