NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, January 17th
(All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (26-15-4) at New York Rangers (28-11-4), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Predators captain Shea Weber said his club isn't playing as
well as it would like.
The rest of the league may disagree.
Nashville takes aim at a season-high sixth victory in a row this evening in a
matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers, who are looking
to bounce back from a rare loss.
The Predators matched their longest win streak of the season on Monday
afternoon as they rode a dominating first period en route to a 3-1 victory
over the Islanders. Nashville scored on its first two shots of the game and
was up by three before the game was 12 minutes old.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored a goal in his third straight game and Matt Halischuk
and David Legwand added tallies as well. Kostitsyn has six goals and a pair of
assists over his last seven games and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves.
Nashville has won 14 of its past 18 game and sits only four points back of
first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. Putting together
steady games has been key for the Preds.
"We were really inconsistent early on in the year," said Weber. "We'd play
three or four good games and play three or four poor games. The level of drop
off isn't as much right now. We're not quite as consistent as we want to be or
as good as we want to be, but it's getting there."
Nashville will likely have to try for its first six-game win streak since
March 17-26 of last year without All-Star blueliner Ryan Suter, who missed the
final two periods of Monday's game due to an upper-body issue.
With Suter battling the nagging ailment, the Predators dressed seven
defenseman against the Islanders, so they were easily able to overcome the
loss of Suter in terms of healthy bodies.
"[Suter] was feeling a little questionable today and tried to play through it.
He's a tough guy, but when something is bugging you, it's bugging you," said
Weber, a fellow All-Star selection.
Craig Smith, meanwhile, missed his second game in a row due to illness.
The Rangers return home following a 4-1 loss in Montreal on Sunday that
snapped a four-game road winning streak. The loss was just New York's third in
its past 14 games and it is tied with Chicago and St. Louis for the most
points in the NHL with 60.
Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves in New York's sixth straight loss at Montreal.
John Mitchell scored the Rangers' only goal and Marian Gaborik earned his
300th career assist on the tally.
"We had no structure defensively," New York head coach John Tortorella said.
"That was our biggest problem."
Forward Brandon Dubinsky missed his third straight game because of a shoulder
issue, while Ruslan Fedotenko sat out on Sunday with a back injury.
While the Rangers return home after visiting a city where they have struggled,
the Predators have had no such issues when visiting Madison Square Garden.
They are unbeaten in their past six trips to the historic venue, going 5-0
with a tie.
New York did best the Predators in Nashville a season ago in the lone meeting
between the clubs, getting 29 saves from Lundqvist in a 2-1 shootout decision.
It marked the sixth game in a row that the road team has won in this series.
01/17 10:38:14 ET