NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 13th (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (23-13-6) at Florida Panthers (19-20-2), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Predators have allowed just seven goals over a six-game winning streak. Given recent history, that surge might not face much of a challenge this evening versus the Panthers.
Nashville will try to extend its current run and pick up a fourth victory in a row over Florida as the two teams clash this evening at BankAtlantic Center.
The Predators have outscored their opponents 24-7 over their longest winning streak of the season, helping erase the bad taste of a five-game slide that came right before this burst. Nashville is tied for fourth overall in the Western Conference and is seven points back of first-place Detroit in the Central Division.
Opponents have been held to just a single goal in five of the six games over the Preds' winning streak, including Tuesday's 5-1 decision over the Wild. Nick Spaling played the unlikely hero, scoring twice to double his season goal total.
Spaling's four goals this year are the first of his career and three of them have come in the 22-year-old's last four games.
"He's worked so hard here, and he does a lot of things that don't really get noticed," Nashville center Jerred Smithson said of Spaling. "We notice them in the locker room, but on the score sheet you really don't notice it. It was nice tonight for him to bury a couple and maybe get some confidence.
"We've got some big road games coming up here, and we'll build off those."
Marcel Goc and Joel Ward both had a goal and an assist, David Legwand tallied and Pekka Rinne made 25 saves. Rinne has been in net for five of the six straight wins, allowing just a single goal in each victory to lower his goals- against average to 2.11, among the best in the league.
Rinne will likely get the start tonight for Nashville, which last won seven straight from Nov. 12-25, 2009. A knee injury caused Rinne to miss the Preds' earlier meeting with the Panthers, a 3-0 victory on Dec. 11 that featured 22 saves from backup Anders Lindback for his first career shutout.
The win was Nashville's third in a row in this series, with the club holding a 10-3 edge in the scoring in that span, and it hasn't lost to Florida since Dec. 23, 2008. The Preds snapped a two-game slide in Sunrise with a win there last season.
Nashville has won four straight on the road overall and is the second opponent on Florida's current six-game homestand. The Panthers won the opener of the residency on Tuesday, notching a 4-3 overtime victory against the Capitals.
Florida blew a three-goal lead in the game, getting goals from Michael Santorelli, David Booth and Marty Reasoner to race out to a 3-0 advantage. Santorelli and Booth both scored on the power play and Dennis Wideman notched the Panthers' third man-advantage goal of the game when he scored 2:51 into overtime.
"We worked the puck around and we had some good looks, but I knew we were running out of time [on the power play]," said Wideman. "I just tried to get in a lane to get a shot on net."
Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves as the Panthers halted a three-game slide and won for just the second time in their last six home games. Vokoun made 24 saves in the earlier loss to the Predators, falling to 1-2-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average versus them.
Chris Higgins missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury for the Panthers, who are 11 points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
01/13 13:28:52 ET