It's a Thanksgiving eve showdown at Bridgestone Arena as the Nashville Predators host the Dallas Stars for the second of five meetings between the two division rivals this season. Dallas and Nashville got together in the first full week of the season, with the Preds dropping a 2-1 decision at home. Mike Fisher scored the lone goal in the game on Oct. 18.
The Preds opened their home stand on Monday with a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay, improving their home record to 6-1-1 and their mark in the month of November to 6-2-2.
"I think we've played some good games lately, and it was a good one [against Tampa Bay] because they're a terrific team," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We did a good job defensively and capitalized offensively when we needed to. It was a really strong game."
Morning Update: The Predators held an optional morning skate on Wednesday and Miikka Salomaki (IR; upper-body) took part in it. A Preds projected lineup may be seen here.
P.K. Subban scored twice in Monday's win, giving him five goals and 13 points on the season, good enough to co-lead the Preds, along with winger Filip Forsberg, who has 12 assists. James Neal leads the team in goals with eight and has 12 points overall; both Viktor Arvidsson and Mike Ribeiro have 11 points to their name, including six goals from Arvidsson. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 7-5-3 overall, including a 6-1-2 record in his last nine starts.
The Stars (8-7-5) are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against Minnesota on Monday and have points in six of their last seven outings. Tyler Seguin leads the club with 22 points, including seven goals, followed by Patrick Eaves and Jamie Benn with 16 points apiece. Eaves' nine goals is tops on the club and Benn has tallied six times.
Before you put the turkey in the oven, here are three things to watch for between the Preds and Stars:
Video: Preds web team previews game vs. Stars
Arvi, Arvi, Arvi:
Viktor Arvidsson scored eight goals in 56 games with the Preds last season. It's taken him just 18 games to score six in 2016-17. The emergence of the 5-foot-9, 180-pound winger from a fourth-round pick in 2014 to an NHL mainstay has been impressive, and he's found himself rewarded by skating on the team's top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal.
Arvidsson scored on Monday against Tampa Bay and would've had his seventh of the season if he'd not hit a post in the third period. Arvidsson is impressive to watch even without the puck - look to see if his success on the score sheet continues to add to his overall confidence on the ice.
"The more he grows with experience, the more you're going to notice him on the score sheet and the more you're going to notice him on the ice," Laviolette said of Arvidsson. "You have to remember he's just a young player that was drafted a couple years ago, spent time in the minors, worked his way up here and gotten to a point now where he's a fixture on the top line and playing big minutes."
Video: Watson and Rinne discuss success on penalty kill
14 & 76:
After some experimenting early on, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm have been made a match on the Predators blue line. Laviolette commented after Monday night's game on the added chemistry he's seeing between the two. Ekholm can sense it too, and that can only mean good things to come for the club.
"It's been a process, for sure," Ekholm said of playing with Subban. "We're different types of players, but I think it's been a lot better as it has progressed. As the season has gone along, you get that feeling you know where he's at on the ice at all times. That's the feeling we're trying to strive for, and I think we're getting closer and closer every game - we just try to keep building on it and talking to each other like we are."
Video: Laviolette talks about the game vs. Dallas
All for One:
Sure, Pekka Rinne has been outstanding in the month of November for the Predators in net, a large reason why the team has seen success. But it hasn't just been the puck-stopping ability of the netminder, or a six-game goal streak from James Neal, or the timely goals from different players in the lineup.
It's been a combination of those things, and when a team like the Predators starts to feel things clicking, it's impossible not to feed off one another.
"We as a team, it's a team game," Rinne said. "There's times where your goalie can maybe get you a point or two, but in the long run, it's a team effort. As of late, we've been playing really well as a team, and for myself, it's been easier on the ice, too."
"It's more about us than anything else," Ekholm said. "I know that when we're on top of our game and playing to our capability, I think we can beat any team on any given night. That's just the mindset we have to get going to this game against Dallas. They're a good team, but so are we, so as long as we do our part, I think it's going to be a successful night."
When You Go:
Stop by the recently opened Smashville Outdoor Rink presented by Nissan before you enter Bridgestone Arena this evening. The rink opens at 4 p.m. for public skating and a full schedule can be seen here. Doors open at 5:30 for the 7 p.m. puck drop against Dallas.
Take It In:
Tonight's game can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee, starting with the Predators Live! pregame show at 6:30 p.m. with Willy Daunic, Stu Grimson and Lyndsay Rowley. You can also listen on 102.5 The Game with Pete Weber and Brent Peterson on the call.