(46-21-8) Nashville Predators vs. Washington Capitals (40-24-10)
11:30 A.M. | Verizon Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 11 A.M.
After reaching the 100-point mark for the fifth time in franchise history with a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday, the Nashville Predators are in the nation's capital for an afternoon matinee, or morning outing here in the Central Time Zone, against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.
It's the second and final meeting between the two clubs this season; Washington of course is led by former long-time Preds bench boss Barry Trotz, former Nashville assistant coach Lane Lambert and goaltending coach Mitch Korn.
The Predators spoiled Trotz's first return to Nashville back in October, coming from behind to knock off the Caps by a 4-3 final.
With their win on Thursday against the Lightning, the Predators became the first Central Division team, and the second Western Conference team, to hit the 100-point mark this season (46-21-8). It's the first time since the 2011-12 team that the Preda have hit the milestone of 100 points and the fifth time in franchise history the feat has been achieved.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Nashville is 10 points shy of tying the franchise record for most points in a season which was set by the 2006-07 squad (110 pts, 51-23-8). The Preds are five games short of the franchise record for most wins (51), a mark that was also set by the 2006-07 team.
Roman Josi, who has played in all 75 of Nashville’s games this season, is averaging .71 points-per-game on his way to holding the top spot among Preds defensemen and sitting fourth overall among League blueliners in points this season (14g-39a-53pts).
Josi’s assist on Thursday versus the Lightning, his 53rd point of the season, tied him with Shea Weber (23g-30a, 2008-09) and Marek Zidlicky (14g-39a, 2003-04) for third-most points by a defenseman in franchise history. With 39 assists this season, Josi is tied for second with Ryan Suter (2011-2), Kimmo Timonen (2005-06) and Zidlicky (2003-04) for second-most assists in a season by a Nashville blueliner.
Mike Ribeiro took sole possession of the Preds team lead in points with his first-period goal on Thursday in Tampa. His 57 points are the most he has tallied since he recorded 63 in 2010-11 with the Stars. The Montreal native, who has three points in his last two games (1g-2a), also leads Nashville and is 12th overall in the NHL in assists (43).
Pekka Rinne stopped 28 of 30 Lightning shots on Thursday to tally his 40th win of the season in his 59th game played, tying him for first overall in the League (Montreal’s Carey Price, 40 wins in 60 games played). Rinne is three victories shy of tying the Preds franchise record for wins in a season, a mark he set three years ago (43, 2011-12, led NHL).
Filip Forsberg has six game-winning goals this season, a total that leads Nashville and is tied for 11th overall in the NHL. A Washington draft pick in 2012, Forsberg, who leads NHL first-year players in shots (219), is second on the team and second among NHL rookies in points this season (22g-34a-56pts).
On the other side of the puck, Alex Ovechkin has returned to form and leads not only the Capitals, but the entire League in goals with 47, and his 73 points are good for the top spot among his teammates. Ovechkin has been on a bit of a dry spell as of late, with points in just one of his last five games.
Nicklas Backstrom trails Ovechkin by just one in the point department, while his 54 assists lead the team. Defenseman John Carlson (47 pts) and forward Marcus Johansson (40) have also been solid on offense, while 13 Capitals have hit the 20-point mark this season.
Goaltender Braden Holtby is having a career-year in net for the Caps, going 36-19-9 while posting a 2.18 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. Holtby leads the NHL in appearances, having played in 65 games this season.
The Preds face the Caps in D.C. on Saturday afternoon before returning to Nashville to play the Calgary Flames on Sunday in their 11th and final back-to-back set of the regular-season. This is the Preds’ fourth back-to-back series to consist of a game at home and one on the road, and the second time they have started a home-and-away series as the visiting team.
Today's contest against Washington is Nashville’s final game against an Eastern Conference opponent during the 2014-15 regular season and the fourth consecutive game that the Preds have played against teams from the East. In addition to concluding Nashville’s Eastern Conference regular-season schedule, the game ends a stretch where the Preds faced 11 Eastern Conference teams in 19 games played.
On the season, Nashville is 19-10-2 against the East, improving on last season’s 15-12-5 record against teams from the opposite conference.
This is just the third time that the Preds have visited the Verizon Center since the 2010-11 season. All-time, Nashville is 8-7-(1)-4 against the Caps and 2-5-(0)-2 as the visiting team. The Preds have earned at least a point in seven of the last 10 contests between the teams, including winning the last two games.