Strugging Bruins seek to bounce back vs. Predators
PREDATORS (32-18-5) at BRUINS (33-17-2)
TV: FS-Tennessee, NESN (HD)
Nashville 6-3-1; Boston 4-5-1
This is the only meeting of the season between the Predators and Bruins. Shea Weber gave Nashville a 4-3 win in their previous matchup, March 17, 2011, at Bridgestone Arena, by scoring a power-play goal at 3:37 of overtime. David Legwand, Colin Wilson and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and an assist.
For the first time since the opening month of the season, the Bruins are struggling. They've lost three of their last four and been shut out twice. But Boston remains in complete control in the division, holding a six-point lead over Toronto with three games in hand, but the slump has dropped the Bruins five points behind the Rangers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We just have to regroup and be ready to do what it takes to get the success that we want on the ice on Saturday," goalie Tim Thomas
Like its opponent, Nashville also enters having dropped three of its last four, which has hindered the Predators' ability to make a surge toward the front of the Central Division and Western Conference standings. They're still very much in play for a top-four seed, which would carry home ice in at least the first round of the postseason, but they need to tighten up defensively after some sloppy play in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Senators in Ottawa.
"Tonight, we just didn't play our game," goalie Pekka Rinne said in the Tennessean. "We were probably a little bit too light (on the puck) and gave up a lot of odd-man rushes."
It wasn't a good night for anyone in a Boston jersey as the team's 11-game winning streak within the division came to an unceremonious end. Tuukka Rask
was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots in a little over a period's work, and Thomas only fared marginally better. Milan Lucic
appeared to score at one point, but the goal was disallowed because it was ruled Rich Peverley
had interfered with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
"We're our best when everyone is playing the same," Peverley said the following day at practice. "Little mistakes happen and it's little things that usually help you win. One small thing led to another thing, so we need to be better at every part of our game right now."
Martin Erat has two goals and four assists during a three-game points streak for the Predators. Mike Fisher was held scoreless in his return to Ottawa, but has still accounted for 7 goals in as many games.
Nashville forward Brian McGrattan has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. … Boston coach Claude Julien said Friday that forward Nathan Horton
has encountered a setback in his recovery from a concussion suffered last month in Philadelphia. He remains out indefinitely.
The Predators' third-ranked power play (21.6 percent) has connected for seven goals in the last nine games and 12 goals in the last 14 games. … Tyler Seguin
continues to lead the NHL with a plus-31 rating, but he's a minus-4 over the Bruins' last 10 games.
Thomas and Rinne were finalists along with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo for the Vezina Trophy last season. Both could very well be nominated again, though Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers appears to be the current frontrunner to wrest the award from Thomas, who has won it two of the past three years. The best stat for Thomas is his .932 save percentage, which ranks fourth in the League, while Rinne is second only to injured Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with 30 wins.