The Nashville Predators are on a historic streak, winning a franchise-best nine games in a row. Their next mission is a bit of duck hunting.
The pursuit of playoff positioning proceeds when the puck hits ice tonight. More than points and a streak on the line. For the Nashville Predators, it is pride. As for the Anaheim Ducks, revenge is in order. After being bounced from the playoffs in the conference final last season, the Ducks are out to prove they are for real. A loss tonight would extend their foul mood against the Predators. A loss for Nashville would be a hard pill to swallow.
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The Predators sit atop the Western Conference, leading by 6 points. Their nine-game win streak helped them soar to the top of the standings, and now they are only a single point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL lead. Wingers Mike Fisher and Ryan Hartman took to flight immediately after joining the flock. Now, the Predators hunt for their next prey, with visions of Duck for dinner.
Anaheim comes into tonight’s game on a three-game win streak of their own, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 matches. Shutting out the Washington Capitals proved impressive on Tuesday night, but that was on home ice. On the road, the Ducks are 15-12-5 on the season, 3-2-0 in their last five.
The team is finally healthy, with only Patrick Eaves of the roster due to illness. (Our well wishes go out to him and his family.) They are lead by Rickard Rakell with 28 goals and 56 points overall. Corey Perry has 6 points in his last four games, including three assists in a loss to Edmonton. Twenty-two year old Ondrej Kase is fourth on the team in points but has failed to score in his last seven games.
Still, the Ducks are a physical team, often thought of as foul play from those outside the organization. They always provide a challenge to the Predators.
But, this Predators’ roster is also near full-strength. Roman Josi missed the last few games with an apparent upper-body injury and is uncertain for tonight. The third and fourth lines have contributed solid scoring over the last several games as Nick Bonino, Austin Watson, Mike Fisher, and Calle Jarnkrok all have goals. Can they keep from taking penalties is the main concern as they have 15 infractions in the last three games.
It appears Kevin Fiala will receive a maintenance day as Ryan Hartman fills in on the second line. Fisher again anchors the Predators fourth line, and Kyle Turris returns from his night off. No starting goalie has been announced, but the expect Pekka Rinne to be in net again.
Ryan Hartman – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Scott Hartnell – Nick Bonino – Calle Jarnkrok
Colton Sissons – Mike Fisher – Austin Watson
Where to watch
Per usual, the Nashville Predators game can be viewed on Fox Sports Tennessee at 7:00 p.m., with Predators’ Pregame at 6:30 p.m. For those wishing to streak, the Fox Sports Go app is your place to find the game. Also, you can listen to Pete Weber call the game on 102.5 FM, The Game.