By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 7-6-3
Montreal Canadiens 12-5-1
The Nashville Predators will need to have short memories if they are going to shake off Tuesday night’s loss in Toronto. The Predators had a 3-0 lead with 9 minutes left to play in the first period. What looked like a Predators blow-out, and their first victory in regulation since October 24th, became a 5-4 loss.
Toronto scored 4 power play goals in the second period. The win snapped Toronto’s 8 game losing streak.
For Nashville, they are still looking for that first regulation win since they beat the Lightning on October 24th. If that win is going to come on Thursday night, they’ll have to beat the Montreal Canadiens, leaders of the Northeast Division. In 18 games, the Habs are 12-5-1, and are on a four-game winning streak. On Tuesday, the Canadiens shutout the Flyers, 3-0, leaders of the Atlantic Division. It was Carey Price’s second shutout in four games.
The Predators have played the Habs 12 times in franchise history, posting a 4-5-(1)-2 record. Last season, the teams met in Nashville where Pekka Rinne shut out Montreal. The Predators won the game, 2-0, on two Steve Sullivan goals, while the team registered a franchise high 55 shots on goal.
Thursday night’s game is a homecoming for two former Habs. Francis Bouillon makes his return to the Bell Centre. After the 2008-2009 season, Bouillon was not resigned by the Canadiens and he signed with Nashville, after having played in the Montreal organization for over 480 games.
The game will also be the first game Sergei Kostitsyn will play against his former teammates, and brother Andrei.
Predators fans all know that Matthew Lombardi remains out of the lineup. Nashville’s premiere off-season signing has only played in two games, suffering a concussion during Nashville’s second game in Chicago.
For Montreal, Andrei Markov is out indefinitely. Markov re-injured his right knee and will have to undergo surgery. Jeff Halpern is questionable for Thursday night. He is listed as having a head injury.
Keys to the game
For Montreal, the Habs have to not underestimate the Predators. Nashville will come out with something to prove, that they are the team that started the season 5-0-3, not the one that has gone 2-6-0 since those first eight games.
The Predators will need to get their special teams under control. Letting in four power play goals against Toronto’s struggling power play units means Nick Spaling should be reinserted into the lineup. Spaling is a penalty kill specialist. The Predators are a more solid team defensively when Spaling is on the ice.
After Thursday’s game, the Predators will travel to Carolina to play the Hurricanes on Saturday night before moving on to Columbus for a Monday night game in Ohio. It will be the first of six meetings between the Central Division rivals.
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. The next Predators home game is Wednesday, November 24th when the Preds take on the St. Louis Blues for the third and final time at Bridgestone Arena. The game is going to be televised nationally on Versus. You do not want to miss it!