NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 24: Jerred Smithson #25 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal against the Anaheim Ducks in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 24, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
The last time the Predators saw the Ducks, the two teams were shaking hands after the first playoff series win in franchise history for Nashville. Anaheim comes back to Nashville tonight and while the stakes may not be as high as they were in April, the game is still important for both teams.
The Predators had lost four of five before handling the Lightning on Thursday 5-3 and will both be looking to keep the momentum rolling tonight.
"I don't know if it was our best game. I thought we played pretty good against New Jersey and I thought we played pretty good against San Jose," Trotz said. "I don't know if it was our best game, but it was the best result."
The Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday, beating the Minnesota Wild.
The puck drops at seven o'clock at Bridgestone Arena. The game will not be broadcast on TV in the Nashville-area, but you can listen in on 102.5 The Game. For those of you with NHL Center Ice, the local blackout has been lifted and the Anaheim feed should be available.
Here are some story lines to keep an eye on tonight:
Erat, Kostitsyn, should be in lineup
According to head coach Barry Trotz, Martin Erat is set to return to the ice for the Predators tonight. Erat has been out with an upper-body injury since the team's home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He practiced with the team today, and Trotz says he's ready to go.
"Marty feels good," Trotz said. "I haven't talked to him since he got off the ice [at practice], but he probably will be in tomorrow."
Sergei Kostitsyn took a tumble on Thursday and didn't return to the game, but Kostitsyn is probable for tonight's contest. Kostitsyn didn't practice on Friday, with Trotz calling it a maintenance day.
"To be honest with you, I really won't know until tomorrow," Trotz said. "It's more of a muscle strain than anything. I'm hoping he'll be able to play. He's pretty tough. I would say he's probable."
Fisher, Bouillon back to full strength
The Predators got some much needed help when Francis Bouillon and Mike Fisher returned to the lineup on Tuesday against the Sharks. The two gave the Predators some veteran leadership on a team that relies on so many youngsters to contribute.
Francis Bouillon played on a pairing with Kevin Klein last night and the two seemed to find some chemistry. The 36-year-old defenseman sustained a concussion in January but feels like he is back to full strength.
"I feel kind of excited, it feels great - mentally, physically too," he said after yesterday's practice. "[Thursday], I felt better than the first game, but obviously the first game was my first game since [the concussion]. The [first] game was fast and stuff like that, but after a few shifts I was feeling good and yesterday I was feeling better."
Mike Fisher has definitely made his mark since coming back from shoulder surgery. Fisher already has four points in two games, including two goals last night.
"I feel pretty good, it felt good to get back a few games. For the most part I felt pretty good and comfortable," Fisher said on Friday. "Obviously nice to get your first win at home last night, it makes you feel that much better."
Ducks out for revenge?
Any time two teams meet in a best of seven, there's a level of animosity that builds between the two clubs. Having been knocked them out of the playoffs last year by Nashville, could the Ducks will be looking for revenge tonight?
"I don't know if they're out for revenge. You had an emotional series last year," head coach Barry Trotz said. "As a coach, you know, 'hey these guys knocked you out last year, so let's go after them and get two points.' I don't know if there's a revenge factor, but the coaches will all use that."
For a Ducks' perspective on tonight's action, head on over to Anaheim Calling.