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Game Day: Preds vs. Bruins

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(13-8-5) Nashville Predators vs. Boston Bruins (14-8-3)
  6 P.M. (CT) | TD Garden | #NSHvsBOS
TV: FS-TN / NHL Network | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators continue their three-game road trip in New England tonight as they face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The two inter-conference foes will meet for the first of two times this season on Monday.

The Preds are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday at Detroit, which included a hat trick from Captain Shea Weber. The blueliner’s three power-play goals represented the first hat trick of Weber's career and also the first from a defenseman in Predators franchise history. Viktor Arvidsson also tallied in the loss. Forward Paul Gaustad returned to the Nashville lineup on Saturday after missing the previous four games with an upper-body injury.

The Bruins shut out the Canucks on Saturday night in Vancouver by a 4-0 final. Landon Ferraro recorded a goal and an assist while Tuukka Rask stopped all 17 shots he faced in the victory. The win capped off a Western Canada swing that also saw the Bruins fall in a shootout in Edmonton, followed by an overtime loss in Calgary.

Weber’s hat trick on Saturday came with a number of historical notes. Since 1991, only five NHL defensemen have posted at least three power-play goals in a single contest. They include: Philippe Boucher on Nov. 24, 2006 (with Dallas); Bryan Berard on Jan. 8, 2006 (with Columbus); Lyle Odelein on March 9, 1994 (with Montreal) and Dave Babych on Nov. 22, 1991 (with Vancouver). Weber also became the first NHL defenseman to post a hat trick since Ryan Suter on Jan. 4, 2014.
 
Weber’s hat trick was the 24th in franchise history, but just the seventh on the road; he joins Eric Nystrom (Jan. 24, 2014 at Calgary), Blake Geoffrion (March 20, 2011 at Buffalo), J.P. Dumont (Jan. 18, 2011 at Arizona), Steve Sullivan (Dec. 14, 2009 at Columbus), Martin Erat (March 4, 2008 at Edmonton) and Rob Valicevic (Nov. 10, 1999 at Chicago).
 
Weber's sixth, seventh and eighth power-play goals of the season are already more than he had in 78 games last season, and are four off his career high from 2013-14.

There is a three-way tie atop the offensive leaderboard for the Preds, with James Neal (10g-8a), Roman Josi (5g-13a) and Filip Forsberg (5g-13a) all with 18 points on the the campaign. Weber is second in points with 16, and his nine goals, eight of which have come on the power play, trail only Neal in the category. Mike Ribeiro has 11 assists and 14 points for the Preds in 2015-16. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 11-6-5 on the season with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.

Weber has points in six-straight games versus Boston (3g-4a), including his last three games at TD Garden (2g-1a). Neal has points in four-straight games against Boston (3g-3a) and Ribeiro has four points in his last five games against the Bruins (1g-3a). Rinne owns a 3-0-1 in four career games when facing Boston.

David Krejci paces the Bruins with 26 points (9g-17a) on the season. Brad Marchand's 13 goals are tops on the team, while Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson have 24 and 23 points, respectively. Rask has gone 9-7-3 on the season with a 2.72 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.

All-time, Nashville has an 8-10-3 record against the Bruins, including a 2-5-3 record in Boston.

News and Notes:

On Monday, the NHL named Preds Captain Shea Weber the Second Star of the Week following his six-point performance and first career hat trick.

Following their morning skate, the Predators activated forward Miikka Salomaki from Injured Reserve after missing the last eight games with an upper-body injury

Jarnkrok to Skate as First-Line Center:

Calle Jarnkrok is relied upon to be a sound, reliable, two-way center, but with an injury to Mike Fisher, the 24-year-old Swede is getting a chance to add some offensive capabilities to the Predators lineup as well.

Jarnkrok skated between Filip Forsberg and James Neal during Nashville’s morning skate line rushes on Monday prior to their contest with the Bruins at TD Garden, helping to fill a void left by the absence of Fisher in the top two lines.

“You always want to play as much as possible,” Jarnkrok said. “It’s a tough break for us when Fisher is out, but it’s an opportunity for me to step up and play as good as possible.”

Jarnkrok’s improvement has been noticeable from the start of last season and carrying into the current campaign. He’s tallied five goals in 25 games, just two off his goal total in 2014-15 via 78 games. Combine his rising talent with his skillset away from the puck and Jarnkrok figures to be more than capable to take on added responsibility.

“I still want to play well in the D-zone, but when I’m playing with the top six, you have to bring something offensive to the table as well,” Jarnkrok said.

“He’s a good, smart player for us,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Jarnkrok. “He moves up the lineup and his face-offs become better; he’s a player that continually has improved in the last year and 20 games now where he’s ready for a position like this and an opportunity. He’s done a good job with it so far.”

Teammates with Jarnkrok in Sweden, as well as in Nashville, defenseman Mattias Ekholm says Jarnkrok has filled this role before, it just happens to be at the NHL level this time. Ekholm has full confidence that Jarnkrok can do whatever he’s asked, no matter his spot in the lineup.

“He’s the kind of player where you can tell him to be on a fourth line winger and be hard on the forecheck and do his job, or he can be the first-line centerman and be smart and responsible defensively,” Ekholm said. “He can be anywhere in the lineup and do a good job, and I think that’s really a strength of his. There aren’t many guys that can do that, and he’s always been smart, always in the right spot out there on the ice.”


Projected Lineups:


Nashville Predators:

Forwards
Filip Forsberg Calle Jarnkrok James Neal
Colin Wilson Mike Ribeiro Viktor Arvidsson
Cody Hodgson Colton Sissons Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad A. Watson/M. Salomaki
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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Goaltenders: Carter Hutton is the expected starter in net with Pekka Rinne serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Miikka Salomaki (IR; upper-body), Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body)


Boston Bruins*:

Forwards
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey David Krejci Loui Eriksson
Ryan Spooner Joonas Kemppainen Frank Vatrano
Zac Rinaldo Landon Ferraro Tyler Randell
Defense
Zdeno Chara Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow Kevan Miller
Dennis Seidenberg Colin Miller

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Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson is the expected starter with Tuukka Rask serving as the backup.

Extra: (F) Jimmy Hayes, (D) Torey Krug, (D) Adam McQuaid

*Lines provided by @NHLBruins

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