Jason Arnott leads the Predators with 31 goals this season, while Marian Gaborik has returned from injury to post 11 goals and 18 points in just 15 games this season. Those are big numbers on any team, but considering the Nashville ranks 24th in the league with 2.51 goals per game and Minnesota 25th in the league with 2.50 goals per game, well, the production from Arnott and Gaborik is magnified all the more.
Arnott has been stellar since returning from injury. In his three games back the Preds captain has scored four goals and a shootout winner. Further, the Nashville offense has netted nine goals in those three games – this after producing single goal efforts in its two previous games. The captain scored both of the team’s second period goals on Saturday night to rally the team from two goals down and tie the score at 3-3; Nashville eventually won 5-4 in a shootout. On Tuesday against Chicago and again last night at Detroit, he added key third period goals to pull the Preds to within one goal of their opponent. On Tuesday Nashville was unable to complete the comeback, but last night the team netted the equalizer with one minute remaining in regulation – with Arnott in the middle of the scrum at the top of the goal crease as J.P. Dumont batted the bouncing puck in the net. Arnott then answered the call in the fourth round of the shootout snapping his attempt past Chris Osgood to complete come-from-behind win.
Gaborik has been similarly important to Minnesota’s playoff run. He posted a four point night on March 25 in a 6-2 come-from-behind win at the NY Islanders in his third game back after a three-month injury absence. And has followed that up with a five-game scoring streak entering tonight’s game, including the game-winning goal March 29 at Edmonton on and an assist on the game-winner April 7 against Dallas.
It is unlikely that Arnott and Gaborik will be head-to-head on the ice at the same time very often tonight, but the player who is able to create the most offensive chances will very likely influence his team’s ability to claim the win.