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Game Day: Preds vs. Blues

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(18-12-6) Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (22-12-4)
  7 P.M. (CT) | Scottrade Center | #NSHvsSTL
TV: NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


Less than 24 hours after defeating the New York Rangers, the Nashville Predators are back on the ice tonight for a Central Division showdown against the Blues in St. Louis. Nashville is 0-2-0 so far against the Blues this season, scoring one goal combined in those two games.

James Neal scored twice for the Preds against the Rangers on Monday night in a 5-3 victory, while Mike Ribeiro added three assists. The Predators also welcomed Mike Fisher back to the lineup after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury.

St. Louis fell 3-0 to Dallas on Sunday after beating them 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday.

At 199 career goals, Neal is one tally away from reaching 200. When he does so, he will become the third member of the 2005 Draft class to reach 200 goals and the first from the second round or later. Neal was Dallas’ second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2005 NHL Draft. He has split time between the Dallas Stars (72 goals), Pittsburgh Penguins (89 goals) and Nashville Predators (36 goals).

The Preds have experienced plenty of success on the power play during the month of December, posting the third-highest percentage in the League at 29.3 percent. The Preds have converted on 12-of-41 opportunities this month, which is the NHL’s most goals with the man advantage.

Captain Shea Weber ranks second among NHL defensemen with eight power-play goals and is tied for third with 10 goals. In fact, Weber continues to lead all NHL defensemen with 15 points in December, including four goals. His defense partner, Roman Josi, is tied for second during with month with 14 points.

Josi holds the top spot among all Preds skaters in points with 28, including nine goals. Weber and forward Filip Forsberg both hold identical stat lines, with 10 goals and 25 points apiece, while Neal and Ribeiro are both tied for third on the team with 24 points. Neal's 15 goals are tops on the club, with Weber and Forsberg also hitting double digits in goals. Ribeiro has seven helpers in his past four games. Pekka Rinne, who won last night against the Rangers, is 15-10-6 on the season; Carter Hutton owns a 3-1-0 mark.

Josi has a point in six of his last seven games against the Blues (2g-7a-9pts), while Weber has recorded a point in four of his last six games versus St. Louis (3g-3a-6pts). Colin Wilson is slated to appear in his 400th career NHL game tonight in St. Louis.

Vladimir Tarasenko leads the Blues in goals with 22 and points with 39, followed by Alexander Steen with 12 goals and 33 points. Captain David Backes has 10 goals and 22 points; defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk also has 22 points from the blue line. Jake Allen, who is expected to start for the Blues tonight, has a 17-8-2 record on the season, including a 2-0-0 mark against Nashville this season.

Tonight's outing is the third of five contests this season between the two foes. The Preds have points in three of their last six games against the Blues, posting a 2-3-1 record in those contests. All-time, Nashville has a 45-37-14 record against the Blues, including a 21-22-5 record at Scottrade Center.


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The Predators held an optional morning skate on Tuesday, following their game in Nashville the night before.


Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki Calle Jarnkrok James Neal
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: The Predators have not announced a starter for tonight's game yet. Yesterday, Pekka Rinne recorded 26 saves in a 5-3 Nashville triumph over New York.

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Cody Hodgson, (D) Petter Granberg


St. Louis Blues:

Center Kyle Brodziak, who hasn't played since the last time the Blues faced the Preds on Dec. 17, could return to the lineup tonight after recovering from a skate cut, per NHL.com.


Forwards
Magnus Paajarvi Paul Stastny Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen David Backes Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri Jori Lehtera Dmitrij Jaskin
Jordan Caron Kyle Brodziak Ryan Reaves
Defense
Jay Bouwmeester Alex Pietrangelo
Colton Parayko Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson Robert Bortuzzo

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Goaltenders: Jake Allen is the announced starter in net with Brian Elliott serving as the backup.

Extra: (F) Patrik Berglund, (F) Jaden Schwartz, (F) Steve Ott, (D) Joel Edmundson, (F) Scottie Upshall

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