Predators-Ducks: Nashville Begins Three-Game Homestand Against Surging Anaheim

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Predators-Ducks: Nashville Begins Three-Game Homestand Against Surging Anaheim
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

One point separates the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks in the standings.

One point that could mean the playoffs for one team and a early offseason for the other.

The Anaheim Ducks come to Nashville after winning three straight and four of their last five games.

One of those wins came last Wednesday, when Teemu Selanne slipped an OT goal past Pekka Rinne to seal a victory over the Predators.

The Preds look to rebound from a bittersweet week of OT losses that kept them in the playoff picture. But wins are what get teams into the playoffs.

The Predators need a couple big wins at home in order to keep pace with Edmonton and Columbus for a shot at a higher seeding and also to pull away from Anaheim, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Dallas for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

This is the final game of the season series between the two teams with the Predators winning the first two games of the season and Anaheim taking the most recent.

 

What to Watch for

Joel Ward has scored a goal in three consecutive games and is providing offense for a Nashville team that struggles at times to score.

Barry Trotz will tie Sid Abel’s tenure with the Detroit Red Wings from 1957-70 for eighth on the all-time games coached with a single franchise list tonight.

J.P Dumont and Steve Sullivan seem to be heating up in the month of March with Sullivan tallying 15 points (8G-7A) in 15 games and Dumont riding a five-game point streak (3G-4A) and has 19 points (4G-15A) in his last 15 games.

The Anaheim Ducks enter the contest ranked sixth in power plays, while the Preds are ranked fourth in penalty killing. The Predators need to stay out of the penalty box if they want to take this game. The Ducks had three power-play goals in the last meeting, including the OT goal that sunk Nashville.

Both teams have 35 wins so an OT loss will still result in the Predators losing position for that eighth spot in the playoffs.

 

Keys

The Preds need to win the game in regulation. Since February 12, eight of the last 18 Predators games have gone into overtime or shootout. If the Predators want to be sure Pekka Rinne is rested enough for a playoff run, they need to keep the games as short as possible.

Remember, Rinne is a rookie and may have a hard time adjusting to the long season. That said, the Preds defensemen need to step up big and help the kid out in the net as well.

Joel Ward, Steve Sullivan, and J.P. Dumont need to continue to score points and get the Predators some offense. The offense has had trouble finding consistency all year.

Radek Bonk is back in the lineup, while Jason Arnott continues to recover from an upper-body injury. Bonk missed 12 games with an injury similar to Arnott's and will give the Predators some depth at the center position.

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