The Nashville Predators will be pitted against one of the league’s hottest teams as they return home to Bridgestone.
The Nashville Predators have used the month of November to find balance, acheiving a 5-2-1 record that has helped to bounce the team back from a far-less-than-ideal beginning to their season. Now sitting just outside the playoff picture, the Preds are hitting a stretch in their schedule that puts them on the ice against other prospective playoff competition.
Saturday night Nashville was dealt their first regulation loss of the month with Pekka Rinne in net, a 3-1 defeat in St. Louis. The odds leaned against the Preds going into the contest, as the Blues have dominated their own territory to the tune of an 8-1-2 record at home this season.
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Tonight the Nashville Predators return to their own turf, where they have earned the majority of their points this season. The Preds hold a highly respectable 5-1-1 home record that is due to face its toughest challenge yet.
Coming to town are the Tampa Bay Lighting, towing a high powered offense and lights out defense whose 12-6-1 record is good for 4th best in the league. What’s more- the Lighting are riding a 4-game road winning streak and will be looking to complete the sweep tonight.
Even without injured superstar Steven Stamkos, the speedy Lightning dealt a 3-0 shutout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night that left the always brightly-spirited Philly crowd booing their team from the ice. The matchup will test the speed and still-developing defensive chemistry of the Nashville roster.
The Predators must find a way to get the puck in the back of the net, needing more than a two goal effort if they hope to earn points in the contest. The Lightning have netted 15 goals across their 4-game winning streak, never scoring less than 3 in a game.
And those goals will likely be hard to find. Twenty-two-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been putting on a clinic in his third season, marking a 1.43 GAA and .953 save percentage while earning a 5-1-1 record.
The young goalie pitched his second-straight shutout Saturday and has stopped 95 of 96 shots faced during his last three starts. That’s good for an absurd .990 save percentage.
As odd as it is to say, the Nashville Predators may catch a break if the Lightning opt to play their longtime starter Ben Bishop, who has recorded a much more human-like 2.77 GAA with a .909% on the season.
Sitting only a pair of points out of a Wild Card position with a game in hand, the Predators are looking like they’ll be a part of this playoff picture battle throughout the year. And to succeed, they’ll have to win the tough games and beat the great teams. Tonight is a great time to start.