Game Preview: Nashville Predators vs Vegas Golden Knights 04/04/23
After a rough 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars last night, the Preds return home on Pride Night to take on the Vegas Golden Knights, who outlasted the Wild 4-3 in the shootout last night.
After a rough 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars last night, the Nashville Predators (38-30-8, 84 points) return home for Hockey is for Everyone Night to take on the Vegas Golden Knights (48-22-7, 103 points), who outlasted the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the shootout last night.
In terms of direction, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Knights have already clinched a playoff berth, and are fighting to take the Western Conference's top seed. With Los Angeles (100 points) and Edmonton (99 points) right on their heels, Vegas still has plenty to play for late in the season.
The Predators, on the other hand, are still mathematically in the playoff race, but their hopes are dim--and a loss tonight will make those chances even slimmer. If Nashville loses four of their last six games, they will be eliminated, but after a contest upcoming against the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville has head-to-head matchups with the two teams it's competing against for the Western Conference's wild card spot--the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames.
Nashville looks to end the three-game season series against Vegas after going 0-1-1 earlier this year. The Predators allowed five goals against in both of the games (5-1 loss, 5-4 OT loss). However, a lot has changed for the Predators since the games in late December/early February, and the Knights are still just as dangerous on offense. Predators goaltender Kevin Lankinen (8-7-1, 91.7% save percentage) will likely get the start tonight, so the Predators will have to be on top of their game to keep up.
As for the injury front, expect Nashville to once again be without forward Cole Smith, with John Leonard stepping into the lineup in his absence.
Author's note - update 1:30 pm 04/04/23: John Leonard is on waivers today for reassignment to Milwaukee. It would appear a forward is returning to the lineup, perhaps Cole Smith.
As for the other long-term injuries, captain Roman Josi has been with the team and skating in a non-contact jersey, but head coach John Hynes doesn't know when and if the defender will return.
Last Ten Games Out
Nashville Predators - 4-5-1
Wins: vs STL 6-1, @ BOS 2-1, vs SEA 2-1 (OT), @ BUF 7-3
Losses: @ DAL 1-5, @ PIT 0-2, vs TOR 2-3, vs SEA 2-7, @ NYR 0-7
OT Losses: vs WPG 2-3
Vegas Golden Knights - 7-2-1
Wins: @ MIN 4-3 (OT), vs MIN 4-1, @ EDM 4-3 (OT), @ CGY 3-2, @ VAN 4-3, vs CBJ 7-2, @ PHI 5-3
Losses: vs EDM 4-7, vs CGY 2-7
OT Losses: @ SJS 3-4
How to Watch
The game starts at 7:00 pm Central, 8:00 pm Eastern on ESPN and 102.5 the Game