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GameDay in Nashville: Florida Panthers visit Predators

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Predators Panthers Florida Nashville
The Predators will play host to the Florida Panthers in an NHL Central Division game on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena off Broadway in downtown Nashville. // Photo courtesy @bridgestonearenaofficial

The Panthers are back on the road, heading to Nashville for a two-game set with the Predators following a five-game homestand in which Florida won two games but got points in four.

It wasn’t the best homestand of the year by any means but it was definitely no cause for tearing things down.

In fact, the Panthers feel pretty good about where they’re at.

The team took off for Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon and know this trip brings the opportunity to add to their fast start.

Nashville is a team which is hurting a bit and coming off a home loss to Carolina after sweeping two from Columbus.

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The Panthers are 1-0-1 against the Predators this season and will be looking for some points against this sixth-place team which stands eight points out of a playoff spot.

Four of the five games on this trip (the Panthers go to Carolina Sunday for a makeup before heading to Columbus) are against teams currently outside of the playoff picture.

The Panthers would like to keep it that way while strengthening their own postseason case.

“The first game on a trip like this, you would like to start off on a positive note,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

“They are able to beat anyone, they have been in the past and are a hard team in that building. We expect a hard game. Let’s try playing the same game from start to finish, regardless of the opponent and no matter the challenge.”

Quenneville ran a quick but spirited practice Wednesday morning with a lot of work spent on the power play.

“There was a lot of energy, lot of excitement,” Quenneville said. “Let’s keep that, transcend that into a big start (Thursday).”

Florida will start Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday with Vinnie Hinostroza getting back in as Noel Acciari moves up to the third line.

Owen Tippett comes back out and has been moved to the taxi squad.

The Panthers will also have defenseman Gustav Forsling back as he worked with Radko Gudas on Wednesday.

On the injury front, Quenneville said Noah Juulsen will not travel with the team on this trip but Anthony Duclair will.

Duclair did not skate Wednesday; the next game he could play in would be Tuesday in Columbus.

As for Nashville, goalie Jusse Saros left Tuesday’s game against Carolina after a head-to-head hit in the first period, was not at practice Wednesday and is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Pekka Rinne, who has given up two goals on 48 shots in two games against Florida this season, will start for the Preds.

Since replacing Saros during Nashville’s eventual 6-5 OT win in Sunrise on Feb. 4, Rinne is 4-5-0 with a 2.10 GAA and a save percentage of .929 with a shutout.

Kasimir Kaskisuo, who played for the AHL Toronto Marlies last year, will be the back up at least for now.

Nashville currently has center Ryan Johansen on the Covid-19 list but he could come off and be in the lineup.

Florida Panthers at Nashville Predators 

  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
  • TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
  • Records/Standings: Florida 13-4-4 (3rd in Central); Nashville 10-12-0 (6th)
  • All-time series: Florida leads 16-9-6 (3 ties)
  • Season series: Tied 1-1
  • Last season: Florida won both meetings (3-2, SO; 3-0)
  • Panthers this week — Monday: Carolina 3, Florida 2 (OT); Thursday: Panthers at Nashville, 8; Saturday: Panthers at Nashville, 2; Sunday: Panthers at Carolina, 5

Projected Florida Panthers lines

Florida forwards

77 Frank Vatrano — 16 Sasha Barkov — 23 Carter Verhaeghe

11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist

19 Mason Marchment — 27  Eetu Luostarinen — 55 Noel Acciari

94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 13 Vinnie Hinostroza

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Florida defensemen

52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad

3 Keith Yandle — 6 Anton Stralman

42 Gustav Forsling — 7 Radko Gudas

Florida goalies

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

60 Chris Driedger

Likely scratches: D Kevin Connauton, D Riley Stillman

Taxi squad: F Brett Connolly, F Owen Tippett, F Grigori Denisenko, G Philippe Desrosiers

IR: F Anthony Duclair (upper body); D Markus Nutivaara (upper body); D Noah Juulsen (not specified)

Florida power play (15/60 25% — 11th in NHL)

Florida penalty kill (47/61 77% — 20th in NHL)

PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle

PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Stralman

Projected Nashville Predators lines

Nashville forwards

9 Filip Forsberg — 64 Mikael Granlund — 29 Eeli Tolvanen

19 Calle Jarnkrok — 95 Matt Duchene — 23 Rocco Grimaldi

21 Nick Cousins — 56 Erik Haula — 33 Viktor Arvidsson

84 Tanner Jeannot — 10 Colton Sissons — 25 Mathieu Olivier

Nashville defensemen

59 Roman Josi — 57 Dante Fabbro

14 Mattias Ekholm — 45 Alexandre Carrier

17 Ben Harpur — 5 Matt Benning

Nashville goalies

35 Pekka Rinne

74 Jusse Saros

Nashville power play (14/75 18.7% — 19th in NHL)

Nashville penalty kill (50/71 71.2% — 29th in NHL)

PP1: Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund, Filip Forsberg, Dante Fabbro, Roman Josi

PP2: Eeli Tolvanen, Matt Duchene, Viktor Arvidsson, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Mattias Ekholm

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