Nashville Predators 37-20-7
Florida Panthers 30-21-12
The Nashville Predators will try to get back to their winning ways on Saturday night when they take on the Florida Panthers. The Panthers lead the Southeast Division with 72 points.
Both teams are coming off losses. On Monday night, the Predators lost 4-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes. On Thursday, the Panthers were shutout 6-0 by the Winnipeg Jets.
Just ahead of the trade deadline, the Predators traded long-time Predator Jerred Smithson to Florida for a sixth-round draft pick. Other former Predators who are now on the Panthers roster include Marcel Goc, Mike Santorelli and Scottie Upshall.
The Predators have a 16-13-2 record on the road, with a 6-6-3 record against the Eastern Conference this season, and will try to keep pace with Detroit and St. Louis in the ever-competitive fight for the Central Division title. Prior to the start of Friday night’s games, the Predators were 6 points behind both the Red Wings and the Blues. On Friday night, Detroit was set to take on the slumping Minnesota Wild.
The Predators ended the month of February with a 6-4-3 record, highlighted by a four-game homestand that saw Nashville go 3-0-1 beating playoff teams such as Vancouver and San Jose as well as Los Angeles. The Predators lost in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues for their only loss during the homestand.
Nashville will try to continue their recent trend of posting strong records in the month of March. Over the last two seasons, the Predators ended March with a combined record of 21-8-3 as they push to finish the season strong to position themselves as best as possible for the post-season.
While most eyes with be on Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad, the two trade-deadline acquisitions that general manager David Poile picked up as the Predators try for a long Stanley Cup run. However, there are other players who have played some of their best hockey this season as of late or historically have put together some good games against the Panthers.
Predators rookie Gabriel Bourque has points in three straight games including a goal and three assists. It is the first three-game point streak of his career.
Right wing Patric Hornqvist has 11 points in his last 12 games which includes 6 goals and 5 assists. Hornqvist is also tied for the team lead in goals, with Mike Fisher, with 18 goals for the season. If Hornqvist scores 20 goals he will become the first player drafted by Nashville to score 20 goals in three consecutive seasons for the team.
Finally, veteran David Legwand has had considerable success against the Panthers with 11 points in 11 games against Florida, including 4 goals and 7 assists.
The Predators have taken Brian McGrattan off of injured reserve. McGrattan hasn’t played a game since February 4th when he was injured in a fight against the Blues tough guy Ryan Reaves.
Game time is at 6:30 pm Central Time. The Predators return home to play three games at Bridgestone Arena starting with a Tuesday night contest against the Los Angeles Kings.
Photo credit: AP