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Game Day: Rangers vs. Preds

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

(30-15-4) New York Rangers vs. Nashville Predators (33-12-6)
  2 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Nissan Pregame: 1:30 P.M.
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The Nashville Predators conclude a three-game home stand Saturday with a matinee matchup versus the New York Rangers at 2 p.m. The first of two meetings on the season between the clubs, Saturday's contest will feature the NHL's leading goal-scorer in Rick Nash and the League's rookie points leader in Filip Forsberg.

In the second act of the Preds stretch of three-straight contests at Bridgestone Arena, goaltender Pekka Rinne returned to the net for his first game action in over three weeks. The Anaheim Ducks puts four pucks past Rinne to begin the game, however, and passed Nashville for sole possession of first place in the NHL with a 5-2 victory. Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen also tied for Rinne for most wins (29) in the League with a 44-save performance on Thursday.

Nashville forward Colin Wilson put the Preds on the board in the third period of their loss to the Ducks with his 17th goal of the campaign. The marker set a new career high in goals and in points (36) in a season for the 25-year-old. The Greenwich, Connecticut, native has 23 points since Dec. 22; a total that puts him in a tie for the most points in the NHL since that date. Approximately 11 minutes after Wilson's goal, Preds winger James Neal also scored his 17th goal of the season. The two forwards are tied, along with Forsberg, for the team lead in goals.

Half of the six points registered by Predators skaters on Thursday belonged to members of the club's defensive corps, a trend that's become common to say the least. With blueliners Roman Josi and Shea Weber leading the way offensively with 45 points each, Nashville has now seen 130 total points come from their D-men, the most in the League. Third-year defenseman Victor Bartley had one of the points against the Ducks and registered a new career high in points (eight assists on the season).

On the front end of Nashville's attack, Forsberg continues to lead the team in points with 46. The first-year forward's linemate, Mike Ribeiro sits second with 43. Ribeiro is a single point shy of 700 for his career and has 33 helpers on the 2014-15 campaign.

As was mentioned earlier, Nash leads the NHL in goals with 32 and also paces the Rangers with 48 points overall. Forwards Martin St. Louis (14g, 23a) and Derek Brassard (13g, 24a) are knotted for second on the team with 37 points. Former Predators defenseman Kevin Klein leads the Blueshirts in points from the back end with 18. The D-man spent over 10 years in the Nashville organization, including being drafted by the Preds in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in the Music City. Saturday's game will be the first time Klein has returned to Bridgestone Arena since being traded in January of 2014.

The Rangers revealed on Friday that their star netminder Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be out at least the next three weeks after suffering a vascular injury earlier in the month. Goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to get the start today in Lundqvist's absence.

Nashville saw a franchise-record, nine-game home win streak end on Thursday, but are still 20-3-1 in their own barn. New York is 13-8-1 away from the Big Apple. The Predators have played 8 home games against the Rangers all-time and hold a 2-5-1 record. The Preds last defeated the Rangers on home ice in 2004, a 2-1 overtime victory.

Neither team will hold a morning skate in advance of this afternoon's contest. The Predators practiced on Friday and their projected lines can be found here.
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