Preview #41: Preds Meet Midway Point Of Season Looking For Fifth Straight Win

By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

Nashville Predators 21-13-6
San Jose Sharks 21-15-5

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Marcel Goc #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates after scoring in the second period as Jason Demers #60 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during an NHL game at the HP Pavilion on November 10, 2009 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Last year, Marcel Goc celebrates after scoring against his old team. Can he repeat that performance Saturday night?(Photo: Yardbarker.com)

If you add the salaries of Nashville’s injured players, a little over $15 million is out of the lineup. The Predators remain without Marty Erat, Steve Sullivan, Matthew Lombardi, Jordin Tootoo, Cal O’Reilly and now perhaps Nick Spaling.

Despite the injuries, the Predators have won four in a row, including back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday against the Ducks and Kings. Nashville hopes to continue winning on Saturday night when they face the San Jose Sharks, losers of their last two games.

As is often the case these days in the Western Conference, Saturday night’s game is important for positioning in the standings as only one point separates the Predators from the Sharks.

Despite the injuries to many of Nashville’s top billeted players, the Predators offense has been clicking as of late. Thursday night, Nashville beat the Kings 5-2. It was the fourth game in a row where the team scored at least four goals. The Predators also scored multiple power-play goals for the sixth time this season on Thursday night, going 2-for-3 and improving to 10-for-41, which is 24.4 percent, over the last 13 games.

Part of the outburst of offense can be attributed to key players coming into their own at the right time of the season. Both Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn are riding four-game scoring streaks.

For Kostitsyn, he is enjoying his second five-game point streak of the season and has recorded four goals and four assists during that time. He enjoyed a six game point streak where he posted three goals and six assists between December 1-15, 2010. In fact, Kostitsyn has recorded points in 14 of the Predators last 17 games with 8 goals and 10 assists in that span.

Colin Wilson is another player who has stepped up at the right time. On Thursday night he had his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists. Wilson has three goals and four assists in his last five games.

And then there is the captain, Shea Weber. Weber has recorded 13 points in the last 13 games and leads the team in points with seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points. Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien and Phoenix’s Keith Yandle are the only other defensemen to lead their squad in points. Nashville is 7-0-0 this season when Weber scores, and 9-1-1 when he records a point.

If these keys players for the Predators, as well as the goaltending duo of Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback, continue to stay hot, Nashville will no doubt continue to climb up the Western Conference standings, despite the injuries.

As for injuries and hot streaks from the Sharks perspective, only one significant player for San Jose could be out of the lineup for Saturday’s game. Joe Pavelski is listed as questionable to start with a lower body injury. Nashville needs to look out for Dany Heatley. Heatley has more points against Nashville than any team he has played less than 12 times with 15 points.

With a win at HP Pavilion, Nashville would sweep their trip to California and come home to face the Wild at home on Tuesday night winners of five straight. Tickets are still available for the game Tuesday.

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