After an impressive 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks last night, the Nashville Predators will go for two wins in two days when they face the San Jose Sharks this evening.
A four-goal first period put the Predators in the driver’s seat last night and the club held on for their first win over the Ducks this year, avoiding a three-game season sweep. It’s the opposite storyline for this evening’s contest, as Nashville will be looking for their third win over the Sharks and San Jose will try to avoid being swept.
The Sharks (49-20-9) are wrapping up another impressive regular season (as they so often have) and a win over the Predators (34-32-11) would vault them over the Ducks and into the Pacific Division’s top spot. A perennial playoff disappointment, the Sharks seeding in the postseason is very important. First in the Pacific pits them against the Minnesota Wild in the first round (at least for now), a much less intimidating opponent than the Sharks in-state rival, the Los Angeles Kings, who the club would play if they stay in the second spot.
Holding a pair of 3-2 wins over San Jose already this campaign, the Predators will try to keep their road mojo going in the SAP Center.
Three questions for the game:
- Twice as nice: Last night, Nashville had two players find the back of the net twice (forwards Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher), another marker in a reoccurring trend. A Predators player has now recorded a two-goal game in four of the last five contests (Roman Josi, Shea Weber, Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist being the others to accomplish the feat). Does a Predators skater light the lamp twice tonight?
- Niemi redemption: Second in the NHL with 38 wins, Sharks neminder Antti Niemi has come up empty both times he’s faced Nashville previously this season. The Predators have collected their pair of victories with an inexperienced tandem of goaltenders, Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec, and so far Niemi has been outplayed both times. Can the Finnish goalie help his squad avoid being swept tonight?
- Reinforcements: Predators forward Paul Gaustad and defenseman Seth Jones have been participants in practice this week, but still haven’t seen game action since they both went out with upper-body injuries (concussions). Both players are set to return to Nashville’s lineup tonight, will they make an immediate impact?
It’s another late one for Predators fans, the puck drops at 9:30 p.m. (CST).