The recently invigorated Nashville Predators will meet the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Bridgestone Arena in the two teams' first meeting since last year's first round playoff series that was filled with bitterness and animosity.
Predator fans, who have clear memories of Corey Perry spearing Pekka Rinne in the gut with his stick and Bobby Ryan stomping Blake Geoffrion's foot, should be in top form for tonight's contest.
The Predators have been inconsistent in their first nine games but had their best effort of the year on Thursday when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 behind Mike Fisher's three-point effort. The Ducks have been streaky, winning four in a row and then losing three straight before a 3-2 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.
The Ducks' top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan was split up prior to the last game to try to break the losing streak but could be reunited tonight. Teemu Selanne is the Ducks' career scoring leader against the Predators with 23 goals and 27 assists.
Both the Preds and the Ducks have suffered from a lack of scoring with Nashville scoring 2.3 goals per game and Anaheim averaging 2.2. Both teams have also had low shot counts with the Preds having an anemic 22.4 shots per game average while the Ducks have managed 26.9.
The biggest difference between the Ducks' team that the Predators faced in the playoffs and this year's version will be seeing Jonas Hiller (4-3-1, 2.49, .905) in net instead of the tandem of Ray Emery and ex-Pred Dan Ellis (1-0-0, 1.33, .966). Hiller missed the playoffs last season with dizziness but appears to be in good shape this season.
Pekka Rinne (4-4-1, 2.51, .924) should be in goal for the Predators with Anders Lindback (0-0-0, 1.50, .958) continuing to get plenty of time watching from the best seat in the house. A win tonight would be Rinne's 100th career victory for the Predators. He is currently the league leader in shots faced (278) and saves (257) while playing 502:19 minutes.
Sergei Kostitsyn was nicked up a bit in the last game but is expected to play tonight. The Predators are also hopeful of getting Marty Erat back in the lineup after he missed the last eight games with an upper-body injury. Cal O'Reilly was sent to Phoenix on Friday to open a roster spot for Erat's return.
There will be plenty of pre-game activities before the 7 p.m. puck drop with the Preds celebrating Halloween a couple of days early as fans are being encouraged to dress in costumes.
The Predators will travel to Chicago on Sunday for a Monday meeting with the Blackhawks and then will head west for and not play at home again until they celebrate their 1000th game against the Montreal Canadiens on November 12.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass