The Nashville Predators have ventured into the nation's capitol to face the Washington Capitals (6 p.m. FS-TN) in the Preds' annual fathers trip where the players reward their dads for all their efforts in their early careers that allowed the players to reach the NHL by bringing them along to a road destination.
The team has generally had success when the dads have tagged along and it is an especially nice touch this year for the Preds' players when the NHL schedule makers piled on a ton of games before and after the Christmas weekend with the team hosting Columbus on Thursday, traveling to Dallas on Friday, and then having Detroit in on Monday.
In a rare quirk of the schedule, this will be the fourth time that the Predators and Capitals have met this season, including a pair of preseason games. They first met on September 20 in the Baltimore Hockey Classic when the Preds won 2-0. They played a second exhibition game in Nashville on September 28 when the Predators won 4-1.
In the regular season, Nashville beat the Caps 3-1 at the Bridgestone Arena on November 15 in a thrilling game when all the scoring took place in the last five minutes of the contest.
Since the last meeting, the Caps had a major shake-up when they surprised the hockey world on November 28th with the firing of Coach Bruce Boudreau who had gone 12-9-1 for the season after a 7-0-0 start. The teams fortunes have not been much better under new coach Dale Hunter, going 4-5-0 since the change.
The Predators are riding a five game win streak that has been somewhat shaky as they have now reached a streak of ten one-goal games when they have gone 7-3-0.
It is expected that Pekka Rinne (15-9-4, 2.48, .924) will start once again for the Predators while the Capitals have indicated that they will start Michal Neuvirth (4-6-1, 3.27, .889) instead of ex-Pred Tomas Vokoun (12-8-0, 2.81, .906).
Update from Josh Coooper - Anders Lindback will get the start in DC.
On an individual basis, tonight's contest will the the 1000th game of Mike Knuble's NHL career so there will be plenty of accolades thrown in his direction.
The Predators will return home immediately after the game and practice at Centennial Sportsplex on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
For other Predator previews see Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, Robby Stanley, Predatorial, The Tennessean, and Predators.com. Ryan Porth also has an audio clip of Mike Fisher previewing tonight's game.
For previews from Washvington check out Caps.com, Washington Times, Washington Post, Japers Rink, On Frozen Blog, Rock the Red, Capitals Outsider, Russian Machine Never Breaks, Capitals Examiner, and Kings of Leonsis.
For the game notes from NHL Media Services go here.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass