(19-7-2) Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks (16-11-4)
9:30 P.M. | SAP Center
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators are set to wrap up a three-game road trip with a meeting tonight in San Jose. This evening's contest with the Sharks is the first of three games between the two clubs this season. The Preds are a perfect 2-0-0 on the roadtrip thus far, defeating Colorado and Arizona on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Nashville has outscored their opponents 8-1 through the two road contests.
With a 5-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday, the Predators won their 19th game and recorded their 39th and 40th points of the season, marking the best 28-game start in franchise history. This year's club is now the fastest Predators squad to reach the 40-point plateau.
Not only is the team winning with regularity, but Nashville General Manager David Poile is also set for a significant milestone. With the next Predators victory, Poile will slot into second place on the NHL's all-time wins list by a GM. Poile currently holds 1,170 wins to his name, tied with Harry Sinden for the mark. Poile, who has been at the helm of the Predators since the franchise's inception in 1998, ranks second in all-time games as a general manager (2,404) and is the third longest tenured GM in League history at 32 full seasons (1982-83 to 2013-14) in the position, serving with both the Washington Capitals and the Preds.
Preds rookie sensation Filip Forsberg tallied his 10th multi-point game of the season on Thursday against Arizona, assisting on two goals and increasing his hold on both the Predators and NHL rookie scoring leads (12g-17a-29pts). Forsberg and his linemates, Mike Ribeiro and James Neal, all recorded points for the second-straight game on Thursday. The three players, Ribeiro with 25 points and Neal with 18, lead the Predators in scoring.
Long-time Sharks forward Patrick Marleau leads San Jose in scoring with 27 points (7g-20a), while Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are all right behind with 26 points each. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi sees a bulk of the work, carrying an 11-7-3 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
The Sharks are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and have gone 7-4-2 at home this season. Nashville has picked up points in 12 of its last 14 games against San Jose, posting a 9-2-3 record in those outings. The Preds are 7-2-1 in the series since the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign.
Shea Weber has 22 points (5g-17a) in 29 career games against the Sharks, including nine points in his last 10 games. Colin Wilson has recorded 10 points (4g-6a) in 15 career games against San Jose, while Mike Ribeiro has posted 37 points (17g-20a) in 49 career contests facing the Sharks.
What to Watch for: Brent and Willy's Breakdown:
Pekka Rinne on the Preds success this season:
“We’ve been very consistent this year. We had a good start which helped to build our confidence. New systems and a new coaching staff have also played a big part. But we’ve just been playing hard. I don’t know that there’s just one thing that’s the key. We are still playing a lot of close hockey games, and we’ve been able to pull a lot of those off and that’s always huge.”
Blueliner Seth Jones on defending the Sharks skilled forwards:
“You’ve got to be on your toes with them. There’s a lot of skill in this League and especially on their team and they’re big. They make plays all the time, and we have to be good not just on defense but as a unit of five. Everyone on our team has to stay aware with where they are on the ice because they send a lot of pucks at the net.”
Winger Filip Forsberg on helping out defensively:
“They’ve got a great cycle down low, so it’s going to require our best effort in the defensive zone. I think that’s where the game will be won. If we take care of that then we can jump to offense. It’s important for us as forwards to help out defensively and try to kill the [Sharks] cycles.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette on contributions from new players in the lineup:
“It’s been tough in a sense for some players because we have a lot of numbers...It’s been a situation where guys have done a good job of jumping into the roles that we’ve asked of them. Bourque, for instance, I think has had two strong games in a row. He’s working extremely hard, he’s on the puck and he’s generating some offense for us. He’s bringing the energy to the lineup like he can, and it’s great when a guy can jump back in the lineup and be a contributing factor.”
Morning Skate:Projected Nashville Lines:
Forsberg - Ribeiro - Neal
Cullen - Fisher - Smith
Wilson - Jarnkrok - Jokinen
Nystrom - Roy - Bourque
Josi - Weber
Ekholm - Ellis
Volchenkov - Jones
Projected San Jose Lines:(Note: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a game-time decision)
Hertl - Thornton - Pavelski
Marleau - Couture - Wingels
Sheppard - Karlsson - Goodrow
McGinn - Tierney - Desjardins
Vlasic - Braun
Dillon - Burns
Hannan - Mueller
Alex Stalock*Projected starter