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Game Day: Preds vs. Red Wings

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(13-8-4) Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings (14-8-4)
  6 P.M. (CT) | Joe Louis Arena | #NSHvsDET
TV: FS-TN / NHL Network | Radio: 102.5 The Game

The Nashville Predators begin a three-game road trip tonight in Detroit as they face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. The former Central Division foes are set to clash for the first of two meetings during the 2015-16 season.

The Predators are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night with the lone tally coming from defenseman Roman Josi.

Detroit handled the Arizona Coyotes by a 5-1 final on Thursday, but the Red Wings lost forwards Drew Miller and Teemu Pulkkinen to injury in the contest and will be without them tonight.

Forward Mike Fisher will be unavailable to the Preds after he was placed on Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury on Wednesday. Nashville did not practice on Friday, but the club reassigned forward Cody Bass to Milwaukee of the AHL.

James Neal leads Nashville in scoring with 10 goals and 18 points on the season. Josi and forward Filip Forsberg are tied for second on the club in both points, with 16 points apiece, and goals, with five each. Captain Shea Weber has six goals and 13 points; Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok have each potted five goals. Goaltender Pekka Rinne owns a 11-6-4 record with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Josi is on a three-game point streak versus the Red Wings (1g-3a) while Mike Ribeiro has a point in three of his last four games against Detroit (2g-2a).

The Wings are led by Captain Henrik Zetterberg who has 20 points (4g-16a) on the campaign. Dylan Larkin has 10 goals and 19 points, while Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist have nine goals each. Goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard have both won seven games in net for the Red Wings this season.

All-time, Nashville has a 34-43-12 record against Detroit, including a 13-25-7 record at Joe Louis Arena.

“They’ve got really good talent," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the Red Wings. "They have good structure and they play a good game. Their game right now, it’s a puck possession game that resembles us and it’s going to be a fight to see who can get the puck and get it in the offensive zone because they’re really good at it...they’re playing a really good brand of hockey right now.”

A Childhood Fan, Watson Faces Wings:

Austin Watson has been to Joe Louis Arena more than a few times, but tonight will mark the first occasion sporting an opposing NHL jersey. A native of Ann Arbor, Watson grew up watching Red Wings games on television and at The Joe, as well as playing a number of youth hockey games in the venue when he skated for the Compuware youth program in Detroit. And while he’s played against the Wings in Nashville before, Saturday holds some more meaning for the 23-year-old.

“It’s cool, I’ve played some minor hockey games here growing up, but growing up as a Michigan kid, I watched the Red Wings and came to games at The Joe,” Watson said. “This is definitely a cool experience.”

It’ll be a different challenge tonight than what Watson faced in his youth in the building, namely going up against names like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Kronwall and doing what he can to slow them down.

“Detroit’s a great possession team, and they’ve been a great team in the League for a long time,” Watson said. “They have some great players over there, and it’s a good night for us to go out there and try to do our best to keep those guys at bay and do what we can to help the team.”

Watson will likely take it all in prior to puck drop, but finishing off with two points wouldn’t be bad either.

“I watched all the Detroit games growing up, but now the sides have switched a little bit,” Watson said with a smile.

Predators Game Day Video:

What to Watch for: Pete and Brent Preview

Projected Lineups:

Forward Paul Gaustad was activated from Injured Reserve after Nashville's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. Here is tonight's projected lineup:

Nashville Predators:

Filip Forsberg Mike Ribeiro Cody Hodgson
Viktor Arvidsson Calle Jarnkrok James Neal
Colin Wilson Colton Sissons Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom Paul Gaustad Austin Watson
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Barret Jackman Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm Ryan Ellis


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

Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Miikka Salomaki (IR; upper-body), Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body)

Detroit Red Wings:

Pavel Datsyuk Henrik Zetterberg Justin Abdelkader
Gustav Nyquist Riley Sheahan Tomas Tatar
Darren Helm Brad Richards Dylan Larkin
Joakim Andersson Luke Glendening Tomas Jurco
Niklas Kronwall Mike Green
Danny DeKeyser Jonathan Ericsson
Brendan Smith Alexey Marchenko


Goaltenders: Petr Mrazek is the announced starter with Jimmy Howard serving as the backup.

Extra: (D) Jakub Kindl

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