The Nashville Predators and the Tampa Bay Lightning will square off at Bridgestone Arena tonight at 7 p.m. CDT for the annual Hockey Fights Cancer celebration.
The two squads have opposite records over the last five games with the Preds going 1-3-1 and the Bolts going 3-1-1, winning their last three games. Tampa won a spirited contest 4-3 in Buffalo on Tuesday while the Predators lost late 3-1 against San Jose at home.
The Predators are still looking for their first win on home ice this season as they have lost all three contests. Including last year's playoffs, they have lost six in a row at Bridgestone with their last celebration coming in game six of the first round against Anaheim in April.
This will be the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Lightning have only visited Nashville nine times and only three times in the last seven years. The Preds have a 5-7-3 record against the Bolts and are 3-4-1 at home.
The Preds won 4-3 in Tampa last season on October 24, 2011 with Anders Lindback making 42 saves and won 7-4 the year before at home. Before those two wins, the Predators had lost four in a row.
The Predators looked better at times on Tuesday night with Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon making their season debuts after recovering from injuries. Fisher looked like he was in mid-season form, playing over 20 minutes. Bouillon was paired with Jack Hillen and really stabilized the third defensive pairing.
Marty Erat practiced on a line with David Legwand and Colin Wilson yesterday and it sounds like he is nearing a return according to Ryan Porth.
David Legwand (2g,6a) leads the Predators in points while rookie Craig Smith (3g, 3a) has the goal lead. The Bolts are led in points by Marc-Andre Bergeron (2g,8a) and in goals by Vincent Lecavalier (4g, 3a) and Steven Stamkos (4g, 3a).
It is assumed that Pekka Rinne (3-4-1, 2.44, .927) will start his ninth game in a row. Anders Lindback (0-0-0, 1.50, .958) played well in his one relief appearance in Vancouver.
The Lightning have the makings of a goalie controversy with Dwayne Roloson (1-2-1, 5.09, .858) struggling and Mathieu Garon (3-1-1, 1.78, .942) appearing to be on a roll, winning his last three starts.
It is unclear who will get the nod for the Bolts but neither have played well against the Preds. Roloson is 1-6-1 with a 3.48 GAA in his last eight games against the Preds while Garon is 0-6-2 with a 3.67 goals-against average in his last eight games and hasn't beaten Nashville in more than six years.
The Predators homestand will continue on Saturday when last year's first round playoff opponent, the Anaheim Ducks visit Nashville.
Biddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass