The Nashville Predators will spend the next nine days trekking through Western Canada, and the four-game journey begins tonight in Winnipeg against the Jets. The contest is the third of four meetings between the two clubs this season; the Preds topped the Jets in Manitoba, 1-0, just a few weeks ago.
This excursion is potentially a season-defining road trip for the Predators, as they look to make their way back into a playoff spot with 31 games to go. Preds General Manager David Poile has previously stated this four-game set could go a long way in determining what he may decide to do on NHL Trade Deadline, this year on Feb. 24. As the trip begins, Nashville currently sits fifth in the race for the Wild Card with 55 points, four points behind Arizona, who currently occupies that second spot.
The Jets are just one point ahead of the Preds in the standings.
On the ice, the Predators are anxious to move on from Saturday night's disappointing 3-0 loss to Vegas, after an encouraging pair of back-to-back wins on the road last week.
"It's a really big challenge for us," Preds Head Coach John Hynes said of meeting the Jets. "When you look at the standings and the ability for us to be able to respond to a game that we didn't necessarily like at home on Saturday, [it's exciting] … We can't get lost in Saturday night. We have to understand what it is, put it behind us and we've got to make sure that we're ready to be a better team [tonight]."
Following Monday's practice in Nashville, Hynes stated defenseman Ryan Ellis will join the club on the trip through Western Canada, and although the associate captain will not play in any of the four games, Hynes is hopeful Ellis may start practicing with the team at some point over the next week. Ellis has been on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury since suffering a high hit on New Year's Day at the Winter Classic.
Hynes also said Calle Jarnkrok, who has missed the past two games due to illness, will not play tonight in Winnipeg, but the forward is also on the trip.
Update: Ellis skated with the Preds during Tuesday's morning skate, the first time he's taken the ice with his teammates since he was injured on New Year's Day.
Video: NSH Recap: Team musters 19 shots in shutout loss
Last Time Out:
Pekka Rinne made a season-high 36 saves, but the Predators were shut out by the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-0, on Saturday. Roman Josi is tops on the club with 51 points, followed by Filip Forsberg with 37 points and Matt Duchene with 34. Forsberg has 18 goals on the season, Nick Bonino has 15 and Josi has 14.
The Jets are 3-7-0 in their last 10 outings, but they snapped a skid with a 5-2 win over the Blues on Saturday night. Mark Scheifele leads the team with 56 points, followed by Kyle Connor with 51 points and Patrik Laine with 47. Connor has 25 goals on the season, Scheifele has 23 and Laine has 19. Connor Hellebuyck is 22-16-4 for the Jets with a .918 save percentage.
The Predators are 25-16-(1)-4 all-time against the Jets franchise, including a 10-8-(1)-4 record on the road. Overall, Nashville has earned at least a point in six of its last 11 meetings with Winnipeg (5-5-1).
The Preds have picked up a point in three of their last five (2-2-1) and eight of their last 13 (6-5-2) games against the Jets at Bell MTS Place. On Jan. 12, Juuse Saros made 28 saves and Kyle Turris scored the lone goal in Nashville's 1-0 shutout win in Winnipeg.
Notables Versus Winnipeg:
Roman Josi tied the Preds franchise record for assists and points in a game with five on Feb. 27, 2018, at Winnipeg. He has 20 points (3g-17a) in 27 career games versus the Jets. Ryan Johansen is averaging a point-per-game in his career against Winnipeg, tallying 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 25 games.
Filip Forsberg recorded a five-game point streak (5a) versus Winnipeg from March 13, 2018 to March 1, 2019. He has picked up at least one point in eight of his last 13 contests against the Jets and has posted 17 points (3g-14a) in 27 career games versus Winnipeg. Viktor Arvidsson has produced at nearly a point-per-game pace in his 16 career meetings with the Jets (4g-10a).
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for tonight's 7 p.m. (CT) puck drop from Bell MTS Place begins with Predators Live on Fox Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Lyndsay Rowley have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio side begins at 6 p.m. with Darren McFarland. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
Tonight's Preds Official Watch Party takes place at Top Golf. Click here for more information.
If the Predators are playing hockey, you can count on the game being on at Preds Approved Bars & Restaurants. Locations throughout Tennessee may be seen by clicking here.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV