The Nashville Predators are returning from their extended hiatus, having not played a game since Friday December 2nd against the New York Islanders. They won that contest 4-1 thanks to a career performance from goaltender Kevin Lankinen and are currently sitting on a three game win streak heading into Amalie Arena.
The Lightning are coming off a shocking 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. So the Predators are going to get a real test of their abilities against the former back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. The first meeting between these two teams resulted in a 3-2 loss for Nashville in Bridgestone Arena during overtime. Steven Stamkos scored the game winner on the power play after Mattias Ekholm smacked him on the back of the head with his stick in an attempt to throw him off on the breakaway he had.
Nikita Kucherov registered three points during that game, while Brayden Point had two and Stamkos had the one. Those are all of the Lightning’s big guns coming in and making an impact.
It’s important to remember that even though November 19th may not feel like that long ago, the Predators were in a much different place in terms of winning and losing. After that game, they were 8-8-2, and now, they’re 12-9-2. The Lightning since that game have lost three times. They hold a record of 15-9-1, while after that game they had a record of 11-6-1.
Predators Player to Watch: Matt Duchene
Matt Duchene is on a heater as of late. He leads the team over the last five games with five assists and seven points. Against the Islanders, he had a goal and two assists. He has at least a point in six of his last eight games after a stretch of four games where he didn’t earn one.
In the overtime loss against the Lightning earlier this season, he had a primary assist on Niederreiter’s goal to take the lead, and over his career, he has an impressive 22 points in 26 total games. So not only is Duchene on a strong streak after a little bit of a slump, but he’s going up against a team that he has had a fair amount of success against over his 14 year career.
Predators Projected Lines
Mikael Granlund - Juuso Parssinen - Matt Duchene
Filip Forsberg - Colton Sissons - Tanner Jeannot
Cole Smith - Ryan Johansen - Nino Niederreiter
Yakov Trenin - Mark Jankowski - Michael McCarron
Roman Josi - Jordan Gross
Mattias Ekholm - Alexandre Carrier
Jeremy Lauzon - Dante Fabbro