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Game Day: Preds vs. Hurricanes

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(18-13-7) Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes (16-17-5)
  6 P.M. (CT) | PNC Arena | #NSHvsCAR
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators play their first game of 2016 tonight in Raleigh as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes. The Preds finished the 2015 portion of their current schedule with an 18-13-7 record, including a 5-1 loss in Dallas on New Year's Eve. Carolina has 37 points and is 6-3-1 in their last 10, most recently including a 4-2 win over the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals, on Thursday.

Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne enters tonight's contest with a 5-1-0 all-time record, a 1.65 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in six career starts versus the Hurricanes. Against teams in which he has played at least five games, Rinne’s save percentage against Carolina is his highest versus any NHL opponent and his goals-against average is the second lowest only to Montreal (1.27 GAA in seven games). Rinne has never allowed more than two goals against the Hurricanes, posting a .920 save percentage or higher in all six games against them.

Captain Shea Weber is slated to pass Martin Erat for second place on Nashville's all-time games played list tonight against Carolina. Weber has skated in 723 career NHL games, all as a member of the Predators.

James Neal is one tally away from reaching 200 career goals, and when he does so, he will become the third member of the 2005 Draft class to reach 200 and the first from the second round or later.

The Predators had a highly successful month of December on the power play, posting the fourth-highest percentage in the League at 26.7 percent. The Preds converted on 12-of-45 opportunities in the month, which was tied for the third-most goals with the man advantage. The Hurricanes were also stellar on the power play last month, converting at 27 percent with the man advantage in December.

The Preds and Canes are both stingy when it comes to allowing shots on goal, ranking one and two in the League. Carolina allows 26.2 shots per game, while Nashville average 26.9.

Defenseman Roman Josi leads the Preds with 29 points on the season, including nine goals, followed by Weber with his 11 goals and 26 points. Neal is tops on the club with 15 goals, while forwards Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro have 25 points apiece. Mike Fisher has six points in his last seven games versus the Hurricanes (2g-4a).

Like the Preds, Carolina is led in scoring by a defenseman, as Justin Faulk has 14 goals and 30 points. Jeff Skinner's 15 tallies are first on the Canes, while Victor Rask has 10 goals and 25 points. Cam Ward is 11-11-3 with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in 26 starts for Carolina.

Tonight is the second and final meeting between the two clubs; Nashville defeated Carolina 2-1 on Opening Night at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have posted wins in eight of their last 13 games against the Canes, and have points in 10 of 15 dating back to Dec. 3, 2003 (8-4-2 record). Overall, the Preds are 13-7-2 in 22 all-time matchups against them and are 4-5-2 on the road.


Predators Game Day Video:

What to Watch for: Pete and Brent Preview


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators*:

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

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

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

*Preds morning skate lines via Adam Vingan



Carolina Hurricanes*:

Forwards
Kris Versteeg Eric Staal Elias Lindholm
Joakim Nordstrom Jordan Staal Andrej Nestrasil
Jeff Skinner Victor Rask Phillip Di Giuseppe
Chris Terry Jay McClement Riley Nash
Defense
John-Michael Liles Justin Faulk
Jaccob Slavin Ron Hainsey
Noah Hanifin Brett Pesce

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Goaltenders: Eddie Lack is the expected starter in net with Cam Ward serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Michal Jordan, (F) Brad Malone, (D) James Wisniewski, (F) Nathan Gerbe

*Carolina's lineup via CarolinaHurricanes.com

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