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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 17th (All times eastern)

Nashville Predators (16-8-6) at New Jersey Devils (9-19-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators have turned their fortunes around with their play over the last few weeks. The New Jersey Devils hope an impressive win in their last outing can be the impetus needed to turn their season around.

The Devils will try to record consecutive victories for just the second time this season when they host the surging Predators tonight at the Prudential Center.

New Jersey won its first game this month with Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the visiting Phoenix Coyotes. The victory ended a five-game slide for the Devils, who are 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference with 20 points this year.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals in Wednesday's win after notching just one marker in his previous 12 games. The star winger now has seven goals on the year in the first season of a 15-year, $100 million contract signed this summer.

Martin Brodeur made 29 saves for his third shutout of the season and the legendary netminder extended his NHL record for career blankings to 113. Brodeur had 10 saves in the first period, 11 in the second and eight in the third to lead New Jersey to its first win since Nov. 27.

"We know we have a lot of work to do, but when you win it makes it nice for the time being," said Brodeur. "We all know that the position we are in isn't fun, but tonight was fun."

Mark Fayne scored his first NHL goal, while Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias tallied two assists apiece.

Tonight marks the end of a three-game homestand for the Devils, who are 5-7-2 in Newark this season.

This evening's test also represents centerman Jason Arnott's first game against Nashville since he was traded to New Jersey this past summer. Arnott, who is in his second stint with the Devils, spent four years with the Predators beginning with the 2006-07 season.

Nashville, meanwhile, has set a season-best with four straight wins and Barry Trotz's club has also gone nine straight games without a regulation loss, posting a 7-0-2 mark during that run. The recent hot streak has pushed the Predators into a tie for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

The Preds completed a perfect three-game homestand with Wednesday's regulation win over San Jose. Colin Wilson scored the game-winner with 2:32 left to play in the third period to help Nashville defeat the Sharks, 3-2, at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville rallied during the third period with a pair of goals within 44 seconds of each other. Sergei Kostitsyn scored the game-tying goal, while Jordin Tootoo posted a second-period tally.

Anders Lindback turned away 25-of-27 shots to improve his record to 5-0-1 since he replaced Pekka Rinne, who suffered a knee injury at the beginning of December.

"It's just building our confidence and we know we can turn it around in these kind of games," Lindback said.

Preds winger Patric Hornqvist missed Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury. He was a late scratch after scoring two goals in Nashville's previous game against the New York Islanders. Hornqvist is expected to miss tonight as will fellow forward David Legwand, who has sat out the last three games with a lower-body issue.

The Predators recalled forward Steve Begin from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee to play in tonight's contest. Begin, who has 100 points in 486 career NHL tilts, hasn't played in the NHL since suiting up for Boston in last year's playoffs.

Nashville has an 8-7-1 record as the guest this year and has won two of its last three on the road. The Preds, who will host Los Angeles tomorrow, will alternate road and home tests over their next eight games.

The Devils and Preds split a pair of meetings in 2009-10, but tonight marks the only scheduled contest between the clubs this season. New Jersey has taken two of three and six of nine overall in this series and Nashville has lost two of its last three in the Garden State.

12/17 10:57:27 ET


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