The next stop on the six-game road trip is Columbus, Ohio. Can the Nashville Predators continue their current win and point streaks?
It seems so long ago now. Losing ten straight games on the road certainly wasn’t ideal, especially after winning their first eight games away from home. But that was the old Nashville Predators. This is the new and improved version.
Well, not really new. Just healthy. After missing key players at the same time, Nashville is nearly healthy. The only regular start missing action right now is Kyle Turris, Miikka Salomaki and Yannick Weber are also on the IR and provide valuable minutes; however, they rotate playing time with others on the roster.
The biggest sigh of relief for Predators fans came earlier this week as Filip Forsberg made his return to the ice. Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Forsberg skated mostly with the fourth line, getting a chance to shake off any rust. During the dismantling of the Leafs, Forsberg took only three shots and but gained two individual high-danger chances. He even finished with a CorsiFor of 74.07 on the night. Not bad for his first game back.
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Last night, however, he was better. Forsberg tallied two goals, one on the power play and another in overtime to win the match against that team by Lake Michigan. He gained seven shots on goal and led the team with a CorsiFor 76.92%. His line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson was unstoppable. In 12 minutes of time during 5v5 play, the trio finished with a Corsi rating of 76%, holding their opponents to just three shots on goal. Three of the Predators’ four goals were tallied by these players.
The Nashville Predators lines all improved with Forsberg’s return as well. Calle Jarnkrok moved back to the third line with Nick Bonino and Austin Watson. He filled in well on the team’s top line, but Jarnkrok is an important piece of the third line. Commonly tasked with shutting down the other team’s top line, Jarnkrok’s ability play defense comes in handy. Last night, Nashville’s third line saw the most time against Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Dylan Strome. Jarnkrok and friends led shot-share metrics and denied any chances in the high-danger zone or any goals.
Tonight versus Columbus
Yet again, the Predators face a tough opponent on the road on back-to-back nights. The Columbus Blue Jackets have 51 points on the season, sitting third in the Metropolitan Division. That may not last long. Like the Predators, Columbus is facing injury issues. Center Brandon Dubinsky and forward Markus Hannikainen will be out tonight after exiting their last game due to injuries and will test the team’s depth.
Of more interest is the drama unfolding in net. On Tuesday night, Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled from net after allowing four goals on 19 shots to the Lightning. While details are not available, General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen suspended Bobrovsky for tonight’s game.
"There are certain expectations and values that we have established for our players that define our culture. An incident occurred in which Sergei failed to meet those expectations and values, so we made the decision that he would not be with the team for tonight’s game. This is an internal matter and we will have no further comment at this time.”"
Joonas Korpisalo is likely to be in net for the game tonight, which should case the Predators’ forwards to salivate. Korpisalo is 11-6-2 on the season, with a .889 save percentage, allowing 3.29 goals per game. He is 0-3-0 against the Predators in his young career. Nashville has 10 goals against him, including three on the power play.
Could the Predators continue their winning ways, stretching their current streak to four? A win tonight would do just that and give the team a point in seven straight games. Be sure to tune into Fox Sports Tennessee to see the action starting at 6:00 PM Central!