After an opening night defeat in Boston, the Nashville Predators are back in Pittsburgh tonight for a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Penguins.
It's the first time the two clubs have gotten together since last June, an early season meeting that Nashville doesn't necessarily mind getting out of the way while searching for their first win in 2017-18.
[Click here to see the Predators projected lineup for tonight's game]
"It is nice to have a chance to go back there right away at the beginning of the season," Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said of facing the Penguins. "It was unbelievable to be in the Final, and it was emotional when we lost it, so it is nice to have an opportunity right away to play against them.
"I think you have all those things, those memories in your head. I'm sure I'll think about them before the game, but still, it is huge game right now for us. We are down 0-1 this season, and so we've got to get back on track."
Last Time Out:
The Preds made a late push in Boston on opening night, but it wasn't enough as they fell 4-3 to the Bruins. Viktor Arvidsson evened the game at 1-1 in the first period before the Bruins took a 4-1 lead late in the third. But then, Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg scored late with an extra attacker on the power play to make it close before the final horn sounded.
The Penguins have played twice already this season, falling 5-4 in overtime to St. Louis on opening night, before suffering a 10-1 defeat in Chicago 24 hours later. Tonight will mark three games in four nights for Pittsburgh, who is also searching for their first win.
Despite the early results, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have three points apiece to start - a goal and two assists for Crosby, three assists for Malkin. Goaltender Matt Murray allowed five goals on opening night, and then Antti Niemi was pulled after allowing four on Thursday night in Chicago, before Murray allowed six in relief.
Video: It's a Stanley Cup Final rematch in Pittsburgh
The Predators are 11-10-2-2 against the Penguins all-time, including a 4-6-2-0 record on the road. The two teams split the regular-season series in 2016-17, with the Preds emerging victorious in a 5-1 win at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 22, 2016. Nashville has outscored Pittsburgh 9-1 in its last two regular-season wins over the Penguins.
Need for Speed:
The Predators listed a lack of speed and urgency in their game as a glaring issue in Thursday's loss in Boston. So how much of that was corrected in Friday's practice and how much is simple execution? It's something Nashville will spotlight this evening.
"Playing desperate, playing fast and getting back to how we were playing in the playoffs is important," Nashville forward Craig Smith said. "You can take the bits and pieces of our mindset going into some of those games and apply it now. I think that can definitely help us play a little bit faster."
Take It In:
Tonight's game from PPG Paints Arena comes with a 6 p.m. CT puck drop with Predators Live Pregame beginning at 5:30 on Fox Sports Tennessee. Willy Daunic and Chris Mason have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill call the action on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network. Plus, follow @PredsNHL on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for updates from Pittsburgh.