By Amanda DiPaolo
Carolina Hurricanes 10-11-3
Nashville Predators 11-8-5
Last time out, the Predators just got passed the divisional rival Blue Jackets in a shootout on Wednesday. Carolina played on Friday night, hosting Colorado.
The Nashville Predators are home to the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. It is the second, and final, time these two teams meet this season. Last time out, the Predators edged Carolina 2-1 in a shootout at RBC Center in Raleigh on November 20. Shootouts are nothing new for either team. Carolina has 3 overtime losses, Nashville has 5 such losses. In fact, 6 of the past 11 games ended in the shootout. When the Predators are playing, there is a good chance the game will be a close one.
The Predators have lost starting netminder Pekka Rinne for 2-to-4 weeks. He is out with an undisclosed injury, but what is rumored to be a left knee injury that he suffered Wednesday night in Columbus.
Injuries are nothing new to Nashville this season. They remain without centers Matthew Lombardi and David Legwand. Carolina is a healthy team. Only Erik Cole was cited by TSN as being injured with an undisclosed injury, but he was probably to play on Friday night.
Key to Nashville success is to take advantage of Carolina’s weakness on the back end. The Hurricanes have let in 78 goals in 24 games. Contrast Carolina’s number to Nashville’s 63 goals in 24 games. Offense will now become essential to Nashville with Rinne out. Anders Lindback performed admirably in Rinne’s absence earlier in the season, but some insurance would be nice for the 22 year old from Sweden.
The trio of Martin Erat, Marcel Goc and Sergei Kostitsyn has been really good. Fans should expect them to play together again Saturday night. The new line has been together for two games now. During game one, a week ago against the New York Rangers, they only registered 3 shots on goal, but Erat drew two penalties. Wednesday in Columbus, Erat registered two assists and Sergei Kostitsyn scored his third goal of the season.
Eric Staal leads the offense for the Canes in both goals and points. Staal has 12 goals, 6 more than any Predators, and 16 assists for 28 points. Keeping the Staal line away from finding the back of the net will be another key for the Predators success on Saturday night.
One more thing to watch for is the Predators penalty kill. Nashville set a franchise record for consecutive games where no power play goal was allowed on Wednesday night when they killed off their 25th through 28th consecutive penalties. After a shaky start to the penalty kill at 78.7 percent (23rd), Nashville moved to 84.6 percent (9th).That number goes up at home where the Predators are tied for sixth in the league at 87.2 percent.
The Predators have a 3-1-3 record against the Eastern Conference. Three of those games were played against the Southeast Division where their record is 2-0-1 this season.
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 Saturday when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town.