By Amanda DiPaolo
Colorado Avalanche 26-32-8
Nashville Predators 34-24-10
The Nashville Predators host the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. A win would only move the Predators from 10th to 9th in the Western Conference Standings with Anaheim and Los Angeles both winners on Friday night.
Colorado is on a seven-game slide. On Friday they lost 6-2 to the Anaheim Ducks and their last game prior to Friday was a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Tuesday. Out scored 11-4 in their last two games, it will be interesting to see who gets the start in goal on Saturday night. Brian Elliot was in net for the Avalanche on Friday.
The Predators last game was a decisive 4-0 victory on Thursday, also against Minnesota. It was the second time this season that Predators forward Nick Spaling scored two goals in a game against the Wild. “It’s been a while since I scored so I was just happy to get one today,” Spaling said of his two-goal performance.
The Predators improved to 32-4-1 when scoring at least three goals in a game.
Thursday’s game marked the sixth shutout for goaltender Pekka Rinne, who is now just one shutout shy of tying Tomas Vokoun’s franchise record of 21 shutouts. What is remarkable is that Rinne has played in 219 less games with the Predators than Vokoun.
While the Avalanche lead the League in most goals allowed as a team with 235, the strong defensive showing on Thursday puts Nashville tops in the League in the fewest goals allowed as a team category at 159 on the season. Vancouver is a close second with only 162 goals against allowed.
On Saturday night, the Predators will be looking for their fourth consecutive win against the Avalanche, as well as their fourth consecutive win on home ice versus Colorado.
The teams last met on February 12 with the Predators coming out on top 5-3. Martin Erat had a goal and two assists on the night. David Legwand added a goal and an assist. Erat and Legwand have been leading the Predators offense since the end of January and continued to do so on Thursday night where Legwand added two assists and Erat picked up another goal and an assist.
While the likes of Erat and Legwand are lighting the lamp, some Predators have hit cold streaks.
Patric Hornqvist has one goal in his last 11 outings. Sergei Kostitsyn has one goal in his previous 12 games. Since playing in his first game as a Predators on February 12th against Colorado, Mike Fisher has only one goal. And Colin Wilson only has one goal in his last 12 outings.
To sustain momentum on their push to the playoffs, the Predators are going to need more consistent offense from their top-end guys.
While the Predators have battled their fair share on injuries this season, the Avalanche are also a team that has been hurting. Two high impact players are out for the season. Peter Mueller is missing his entire season with a concussion. Tomas Fleischmann has been out of the lineup since the middle of January and will miss the remainder of the season with blood clots in his lungs.
Other players injured include Kyle Cumiskey who has a head injury and is also out of the lineup. Kyle Quincey had shoulder surgery in December and is out the rest of the year. T.J. Galiardi had surgery on his arm and is likely out the rest of the season. Ryan Stoa had appendectomy and will miss another week or so.
Then there is John-Michael Liles, subject of trade speculation around the deadline, the Avs hung on to Liles only for him to sustain a leg injury. Liles stayed out of the lineup on Friday night in Anaheim, but there is no word yet as to whether or not he will play Saturday night.
Saturday night’s game is the second of a five-game homestand. Of the Predaotrs remaining 14 games, 11 are at Bridgestone Arena, including Tuesday’s pivotal match-up against the Los Angeles Kings. Both the Predators and the Kings are battling for the final coveted playoff position in the West.
Game time tonight is 7pm at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available.
Follow Predlines on Twitter @Predlines