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Game Day: Preds vs. Capitals

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(36-22-13) Nashville Predators vs. Washington Capitals (50-14-5)
  6 P.M. CT | Verizon Center | #NSHvsWSH
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


Less than 24 hours after defeating the New York Islanders, the Nashville Predators will hit the ice once more, this time against the League-leading Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. It's a 6 p.m. (CT) start for Nashville against the only team in the NHL to have clinched a playoff spot thus far.

After returning home from a five-game road trip, the Preds topped the Isles by a 4-2 final on Thursday night, giving them points in 16 of their last 17 outings. The Capitals beat the Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday and are 27-6-2 at home this season with 50 wins overall.

Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne has a 9-1-2 record over his last 12 games, posting a 1.90 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in that span. His nine wins lead the League since Feb. 18, besting Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, among others, who has seven since that time.

Winger James Neal is two points shy of totalling his 400th career NHL point. In eight NHL seasons with Dallas, Pittsburgh and Nashville, Neal has posted 398 points (211g-187a). When he reaches point No. 400, he will become the fifth member of the 2005 Draft class to reach the mark.

The Predators did not take a single penalty on Thursday night and have not allowed a power-play goal in their last six games, stopping all 17 opposition power plays in that span. This is the third time this season that the club has had a streak of at least five games where they killed off the opposing team's power play, with the season high being seven games (from Jan. 16-Feb. 2; 21-straight power plays killed).

Filip Forsberg continues to lead the Preds with 28 goals and 52 points on the season, followed by defenseman Roman Josi with 50 points. Former Capitals center Mike Ribeiro has 40 assists and 47 points, while Neal has 27 goals and 46 points. Craig Smith has tallied 18 times; Captain Shea Weber has 17 goals from the blue line and is one goal away from passing Martin Erat for second in all-time goals in franchise history. Rinne, who got the win last night against the Islanders, is 29-19-10 on the season. Carter Hutton owns a 7-2-3 record.

Drafted 11th overall by the Capitals in 2012, Forsberg has five points in his last two games versus Washington (3g-2a). Ryan Johansen has a point in six of his last seven games against the Capitals (1g-5a) and Mattias Ekholm is on a three-game point streak versus the Capitals (2g-2a).

Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the Capitals in points with 70, including 50 assists. Alex Ovechkin has 42 goals, tops among the Caps, as well as the entire NHL. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both have 63 points; Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie each have 21 goals. Holtby is 42-8-4 between the pipes.

Tonight is the second and final meeting on the season between the two clubs; the Capitals defeated the Predators on Feb. 9 at Bridgestone Arena by a score of 5-3. All-time the Predators are 9-8-5 versus the Capitals, including a 3-5-2 mark in Washington.

Tonight's contest on Fox Sports Tennessee is a unique broadcast, featuring Ford Ice Center and the growth of amateur and youth hockey in Middle Tennessee.


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The Predators did not hold a morning skate on Friday; the below lineup is based on the lines used in Thursday's 4-2 triumph over the New York Islanders.

Forwards
Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Johansen James Neal
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Craig Smith
Miikka Salomaki Mike Fisher Viktor Arvidsson
Colin Wilson Colton Sissons Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis
Barret Jackman Anthony Bitetto

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Goaltenders: The Preds have not yet announced a starting goaltender. Pekka Rinne made 22 saves in a 4-2 victory over New York on Thursday night.

Extra: (D) Petter Granberg, (F) Paul Gaustad (upper-body), (F) Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), (F) Eric Nystrom (IR; broken foot)


Washington Capitals:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin Nicklas Backstrom Jay Beagle
Andre Burakovsky Evgeny Kuznetsov TJ Oshie
Jason Chimera Marcus Johansson Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik Mike Richards Tom Wilson
Defense
Karl Alzner Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov Brooks Orpik
Taylor Chorney Nate Schmidt

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Goaltenders: Braden Holtby is the expected starter in net with Philipp Grubauer serving as the backup.

Extra: (F) Stanislav Galiev, (F) Michael Latta, (D) John Carlson

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