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Game Day: Preds vs. Senators

by Thomas Willis & Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

(3-1-0) Nashville Predators vs. Ottawa Senators (3-2-0)
  6 P.M. (CT) | Canadian Tire Centre | #NSHvsOTT
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game


The Nashville Predators will finish their three-game road trip tonight with a visit to the Canadian Tire Centre to face the Ottawa Senators, the first of two meetings between the foes this season.

The Preds (3-1-0) fell to the New York Islanders by a 4-3 final on Thursday in Brooklyn, Nashville's first loss of the young season. It's the sixth time in franchise history that the Predators have started with at least six points in their first four games. Ottawa enters with a 3-2-0 record after being shut out 2-0 Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

After Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher each hit the 950 games-played mark against the Devils and Islanders, respectively, another member of the Preds, Mattias Ekholm, is scheduled for a milestone this evening. If Ekholm dresses, it'll be his 150th NHL contest.

The Predators put 47 shots on the Islander net on Thursday, their highest tally of the season and the second-highest total on the road in franchise history.

With a goal and an assist against the Isles, forward Filip Forsberg posted his first multi-point game of the season. The Swede is now on a three-game point streak, while Nashville owns a 13-2-1 record all-time when he has two or more points in a single game.

Forsberg paces the Preds with four points on the campaign (2g-2a), while defenseman Roman Josi and forward Craig Smith have also recorded two goals. Forward James Neal has a goal and an assist on the season, while defenseman Seth Jones has added two helpers. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has started in each of Nashville's four games thus far, posting a 1.51 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.

Senators Captain Erik Karlsson has seven assists through five games and his seven points ranks first among Ottawa skaters. Forward Kyle Turris has potted four goals and is second on the club with six points. Mark Stone also has six points (1g-5a), Mika Zibanejad has five (1g-4a). Goaltender Craig Anderson has gone 3-1-0 in net for Ottawa, earning a 2.47 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

The Predators have won two of their last three games against the Senators and have played in six-straight, one-goal games against them. The two teams split the season series in 2014-15, with each team winning on their own home ice. The Predators have a 4-6-0 road record in Ottawa and an 8-10-1 record all-time against the Sens.

Hutton To Make First Start:

On a daily basis, the makeup of Carter Hutton’s training and practice regimen draws from his unique position with the Nashville Predators. As the club’s backup goaltender, the 29-year-old often goes a week or more without starting in net, but when his number is called, he goes back into the spotlight as a key contributor in the team’s ultimate success.

Hutton, who is scheduled to make his first start of the season tonight versus Ottawa, said he and Preds Goaltending Coach Ben Vanderklok always focus on getting him as many save repetitions outside of game action as possible. The goalie last logged 5:50 between the pipes in relief of Pekka Rinne in Nashville’s final preseason game on Oct. 3.

“Vanderklok does a good job of keeping me ready,” Hutton said. “We always put a lot of shots in during practice. I stay out and work hard and put time in at the gym with [Predators Strength and Conditioning Coach] David Good. I also think a big part of it is the mental part, staying fresh and sharp. [Vanderklok] gives me a heads up, and then I start preparing more mentally, but on the ice, it’s the same game I’ve always played. You kind of simplify it as much as possible.”

Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said the choice to start Hutton on Saturday not only sets the Predators up well for a tough upcoming week (Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Pittsburgh all visit Bridgestone Arena), but puts the goaltender in a better position to succeed than what he normally faces.

“Typically, Carter draws a lot of tough starts,” Laviolette said. “You go to LA and you play them on one night and then you play Anaheim the next night at 5 O’clock in the afternoon, so he draws those situations. This is a good spot for him to be in where our guys are ready; we’re fresh and we had a day off yesterday. I think it’s important that Pekka gets his rest as well. That’s why you have two goalies.

“This is an opportunity to get [Hutton] in there on this road trip. Our guys are excited to have him in there, and they have a lot of faith in Carter to get the job done. You’ve got to find the right spots, and this seems to be the right spot to do it.”

Hutton and the Predators (3-1-0) are seeking their fourth win in their fifth game of the campaign this evening, a contest removed from what the team described as their “best effort of the season” that ultimately resulted in their first loss.

“I think we’ve gotten better every game so far,” Preds Captain Shea Weber said. “Last game, we just had a few bad bounces that ended up in our net. If we stick to that game plan, we know we’ll see results.”

Preds center Mike Fisher, who played in Ottawa for 11 years, says he believes Nashville is close to recapturing the early season success that fueled their return trip to the playoffs in 2014-15.

“Last year, a key to our season was that we got off to a hot start and got feeling good about ourselves,” Fisher said. “All a sudden we realized we were pretty good. We kind of want to carry over part of that from last year and get a good start, feel good about ourselves and get that confidence. I think every team wants to get off to a good start and not look back, and we’ve started strong.”

What to Watch For:


Projected Lineups:

Nashville Predators:

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

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

Extra: (D) Victor Bartley, (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Viktor Arvidsson


Ottawa Senators:

Forwards
Mike Hoffman Kyle Turris Mark Stone
Milan Michalek Mika Zibanejad Bobby Ryan
Curtis Lazar Jean-Gabriel Pageau Alex Chiasson
Shane Prince Zack Smith Chris Neil
Defense
Marc Methot Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch Cody Ceci
Jared Cowen Mark Borowiecki

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Goaltenders: Craig Anderson is expected to start in net tonight for the Senators with Andrew Hammond serving as the backup.

Injured: (F) Clarke MacArthur, (D) Chris Phillips

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