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Game Day: Preds vs. Rangers

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(11-5-3) Nashville Predators vs. New York Rangers (15-3-2)
  6 P.M. (CT) | Madison Square Garden | #NSHvsNYR
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators are in the Big Apple tonight to face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It's the third of five games for the Preds on their current road trip; Nashville has fallen to both Columbus and Minnesota by 4-0 scores to begin its excursion away from home.

The Rangers sit atop the Metropolitan Division standings with 15 wins and 32 points through 20 games; the Preds are 11-5-3 with 25 points on the campaign. New York defeated the Florida Panthers 5-4 in overtime on Saturday night, courtesy of a hat trick from Rick Nash.

The Predators saw the return of two forwards from injury on Saturday against the Wild, Eric Nystrom - who was on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury - and Paul Gaustad who had a lower-body injury. Nystrom posted one shot and seven penalty minutes in 15:07 of ice time against Minnesota; Gaustad played 13:50 in his return to the lineup.

Preds forward James Neal is scheduled to play in his 500th career NHL game Monday night against the Rangers, with 86 of those coming as a member of the Predators. Neal was Dallas' second-round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (33rd overall), and has skated with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Predators. He played in his first career NHL game on Oct. 10, 2008, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring a goal versus Pascal Leclaire on an assist from Stephane Robidas. His first game was seven years, one month and 13 days ago, or 2,600 days ago. Among 2005 draftees, Neal ranks fourth in goals with 193.

Nashville's blue line remains the top offensive group in the League with 17 goals coming from the backend. Roman Josi leads Nashville's blueliners with 13 points (4g-9a), while Shea Weber leads the d-corps with six goals.

Neal continues to lead the Preds in goals and points this season, with nine and 15, respectively. Josi is next with 13 points, followed by Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg, who have identical statlines (2g-9a). Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok have each tallied four goals on the season. Pekka Rinne, who started both of Nashville's defeats on the current road trip, is 10-4-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

Mats Zuccarello paces the Rangers on offense with 10 goals and 21 points. Derick Brassard (6g-8a), Rick Nash (5g-8a) and Oscar Lindberg (7g-6a) have also put up strong numbers for the Rangers. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continues his All-Star form with a 11-3-2 record to go along with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.

The Predators have won two of their last three games against the Rangers and have a 9-9-2 record all-time against them.


What to Watch For - Pete & Chris:


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

The Predators held a morning skate at Madison Square Garden prior to this evening's contest with the Rangers. Nashville had the following line rushes during the session:

Forwards
Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro james neal
Colin Wilson Mike Fisher Craig Smith
Gabriel Bourque Calle Jarnkrok Cody Hodgson
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Defense
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis

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

Extra: (F) Miikka Salomaki, (D) Victor Bartley, (D) Anthony Bitetto


New York Rangers:

Forwards
Rick Nash Derick Brassard Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider Derek Stepan Kevin Hayes
J.T. Miller Oscar Lindberg Jesper Fast
Dominic Moore Jarret Stoll Viktor Stalberg
Defense
Ryan McDonagh Dan Girardi
Marc Staal Kevin Klein
Keith Yandle Dan Boyle

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Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in net with Antti Raanta serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Dylan McIlrath, (F) Emerson Etem

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