The Nashville Predators look to win the season series as they take on the San Jose Sharks tonight in the third and final meeting of the regular season.
The third meeting between these teams should be a battle. In the first meeting the Predators beat the Sharks 5-2 in Nashville. The Sharks were on a losing streak to start the season and Nashville caught them at the right time. In that meeting Pekka Rinne had 33 saves.
In the second meeting the Predators lost an exciting game via shootout. The defense in that game was solid. The defense has been up and down all season and that was one of their better performances. More notably, Juuse Saros played an excellent game between the pipes, posting a .969 save percentage. Unfortunately the Predators fell 2-1.
Tonight the Predators look to keep the winning streak alive. They are second-to-last in the Central Division, but have the fewest games played. A win tonight will go a long way against a Western Conference opponent.
The Sharks have one more point than Nashville with four more games played. They sit in sixth in the Pacific. They come in on a four-game losing streak. The Predators have played very well against this team in the first two matchups.
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Keys to the Game
It’s the rubber match. The Predators look to win the season series over the Sharks and get at least a point in their seventh game of their last eight played. They’re trending back in the right direction, but they can’t let up.
First key to the game is to stay out of the penalty box. This team hasn’t looked good killing off penalties, so the best way to offset that is to play more disciplined. Don’t give the Sharks extra opportunities to score.
Next key to stay solid on defense. They seem to be turning a corner in this department. They gave up four goals in the most recent game to New Jersey, which was still a win, but held Tampa Bay to just two regulation goals the game before.
Finally, contain the puck better. Avoid letting the opposition get easy counter attacks and rush up the ice in transition. The Predators get caught doing this a lot because that’s the style they play.
Containing the puck better will help out their goaltenders as well. Goaltending hasn’t been consistent this season, but the defense in front of them hasn’t been rock solid either.
Looking at the Preds lineup
It looks possible that Mikael Granlund will return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. He participated in morning skate, per Brooks Bratten:
As for who is getting the nod at goaltender, Saros looks to be getting the nod. Saros has been the more consistent goaltender over Rinne over the last month, and he held the Sharks to one regulation goal in their last meeting in early November.
The Predators can’t have another month like they did in November. They’re in survival mode from here on out and realistically need to win two out of their every three. Starting a decent winning streak would be nice, and it can be extended tonight against a team they’ve had success against already this season.
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Tennessee and will take place at 7 PM Central time at Bridgestone Arena. More importantly it is Roman Josi bobble head night!