Sunday afternoon, Nashville will be playing its second game in less than 24 hours. Saturday night, Nashville shutout the most offensively explosive team in the NHL when the edged the Dallas Stars 1-0.
The key to Sunday’s game will be whether or not Tampa Bay can get its defense going and whether or not Nashville can maintain its solid shut down play. The Lightning average 3.4 goals a game so far this early season. However, if the Predators defense and their defensive offense play smart hockey than can take advantage of a team that has the 27th ranked defense in the league, averaging 3.3 goals per game.
Another Predator went down to injury Saturday night against the Stars. JP Dumont left the game with what coach Barry Trotz called a lower-body injury. Right now he is listed as day to day. Dumont can be added to an already long list of key players out for Nashville. Ryan Suter was injured in the first period of the game against Calgary on October 19th. Marcel Goc went out with a separated shoulder on October 17th. Matthew Lombardi is out with a concussion suffered during Nashville second game of the season, and first road game, in Chicago on October 12th. Pekka Rinne, Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn have also sat out games due to injuries.
The Predators accumulation of 11 out of a possible 14 points so far this season shows what great depth Nashville boasts.
On Sunday, the Predators will be facing a relatively healthy Tampa team. Simon Gagne sat out Friday with a sore neck and is likely to be back in the lineup for Nashville. TSN lists him as questionable. Mattias Ohlund is out with right knee inflammation.
Who will start in goal is up in the air for both squads, but it is likely Anders Lindback will start in net for Nashville since Pekka Rinne played in Dallas less than 24 hours ago. With Lindback in net, that means the epic battle between Dan Ellis and Rinne will have to wait for another year.
Of course, it isn’t certain that Ellis will be in goal either. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher has yet to name the starter but if Mike Smith and Dan Ellis are co-starting goaltenders, then Ellis would be the logical goalie to be playing because Smith has played two of the past three games.
Despite beating the Lightning last year by a 7-4 score in December at Bridgestone Arena, the Predators have won only once against Tampa Bay on the road and has a 1-3-0 record in Florida. If Nashville manages to sweep its second of 13 back-to-back sets, the Predators will start 3-0 on the road. It would be the second time in the team’s history they would start the season this strong.
If you are tracking the game online, please follow @cellblock303 on twitter. The Tennessean has not sent a reporter on the road with the team, but Jeremy from 303 is in Tampa Bay and will report during the game live on twitter and will also have locker room reaction after the game.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Predators upcoming home games Thursday night when the St. Louis Blues make their second trip to Smashville this season.