Originally written on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 4/21/12

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 25: Matt Halischuk #16 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Ottawa Senators at the Prudential Center on November 25, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils won the game 3-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

New Jersey Devils 2-1-0

Nashville Predators 2-1-0

The Nashville Predators will be looking to rebound after Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Phoenix at Bridgestone Arena when they host the New Jersey Devils Saturday night. The Devils are coming off of a 2-1 shootout win against Los Angeles on Thursday.

Star goaltender, Martin Brodeur, is unlikely to get the start in goal. The Canadian Olympian left Thursday’s game after the first period with upper body soreness, after he landed on his right shoulder trying to making a save.  Brodeur did travel with the team to Nashville but did not practice on Friday.

Johan Hedberg, 2-0-0 on the season, is the Devils backup. Hedberg sports a .952 save percentage as well as a 1.14 goals against average in his first two games, but is 1-3-(1)-1 against Nashville.

The game will be the first road test of the season for New Jersey.  After losing the first game of the year, the Devils have gone 2-0-0 and are looking for their first three-game winning streak since January. While the Predators power play has been clicking at 30.0%, the Devils have not let in a power play goal, killing off all 14 man advantages against the squad.

Saturday night will also mark the first time Matt Halischuk will play against his former team. Halischuk was drafted by New Jersey 117th overall in the fourth round of the 2007 Entry Draft. The 23 year old played 21 games for the Devils before being traded to Nashville on June 19, 2010, along with a second round draft pick (Magnus Hellberg), for then Captain Jason Arnott.

“I think you always want to do well against former teams, but it is just another game,” Halischuk said about facing the Devils Saturday night, adding “I’m going to treat it like any other game and just play hard.”

Playing hard is exactly what Halischuk has done in the first three games of the season. In the season opener against Columbus, Halischuk scored the game winning goal less than a minute into the third period. In 15:35 of ice time last Saturday against the Blues, Halischuk recorded one shot, one hit and had one takeaway. Finally, in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Phoenix, while several Predators had a zero plus/minus ranking, Halischuk was the only skater to have a positive rating at +1.

Other Nashville players to watch on Saturday include David Legwand, Ryan Suter and Sergei Kostitsyn who have all been consistently getting on the scoresheet in Nashville’s first three games. Legwand, who is the NHL points leader, assisted on both Nashville’s goals on Thursday night, and was also in on all four goals a week ago against the Blues.

Suter has two goals (including his first career shorthanded goal on Thursday) in the first week of the season, which totals half the goals that the defenseman scored last season. Kostitsyn is enjoying a three game assist streak.

While Martin Erat is out for Saturday night’s contest, Patric Hornqvist is a game-day decision. After practice on Friday, Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said Hornqvist will skate Saturday morning and then a decision will be made.  Forward Mike Fisher and defenseman Francis Bouillon also remain out of the Predators lineup.

In the Predators only matchup against the Devils during the 2010-11 season, the Predators beat the Devils on the strength of two goals by Erat. Anders Lindback had the start in goal.

Tickets are still available for Saturday night’s game. Everyone in attendance will receive magnet schedules of the Predators’ season. The puck drops shortly after 7 p.m.


Photo credit: Getty Images

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