After clinching their spot in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators will conclude their one-of-a-kind regular season tonight at Bridgestone Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The matchup will serve as a playoff preview of sorts – as did Saturday’s dramatic 3-1 victory for the Preds – as the two clubs will then face off against each other in the first round of the postseason, which is slated to begin this coming weekend.
Nashville was winless in six tries against Carolina until Saturday night’s triumph, and while the Predators were simply happy to clinch their spot in the penultimate game of the season, the win also served as a bit of a confidence boost against the team they could face up to seven more times following tonight’s contest.
“[Saturday’s game] was a big step in the right direction in the sense where we had to win to get in, we had to win the game, which we knew, but also there’s a certain way that we need to play,” Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. “The assistant coaches did an excellent job coming up with a few different things over the last couple of days to present to the guys today, and I thought the way that we competed, the way that we played, that was one where you had to win to get in, and you’re also playing the team that you’re going to play [in the first round]. I thought we played a pretty good game here tonight, so things get elevated in the playoff, but I think this is a good step for first foundation here.”
With Monday’s game no longer carrying playoff implications, the Predators could have some changes to their lineup tonight. Hynes said following Saturday’s game those discussions had not yet taken place, but as teams often do at this stage of the season right before the playoffs, some players may get a final look before the postseason, while others are offered a chance to rest.
Forward Viktor Arvidsson did not play on Saturday and remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Nick Cousins, Rocco Grimaldi, Dante Fabbro and Erik Gudbranson were among the scratches for Nashville on Saturday.
The Predators did not practice on Sunday, but they are scheduled to hold a morning state today ahead of their 56th and final game of the regular season tonight.
The Good Guys:
Luke Kunin scored twice, and Erik Haula added an empty-netter to seal Nashville’s 3-1 victory over Carolina on Saturday night. Juuse Saros made 21 saves in net for his 21st victory of the season to help his team clinch a playoff spot for the seventh consecutive season, which is tied for the second-longest active streak in the NHL.
Preds Captain Roman Josi leads his team in scoring heading into the season’s final game with 33 points (8g-25a), followed by Filip Forsberg with 31 points (12g-19a) and Calle Jarnkrok with 28 points (13g-15a). Mikael Granlund also has 13 goals on the season, Eeli Tolvanen has 11, and Kunin and Viktor Arvidsson have 10 apiece. Saros is 21-11-1 in net for the Preds; Pekka Rinne is 9-12-1.
Carolina is 6-1-0 against the Preds this season with the eighth and final meeting coming tonight, and the Hurricanes remain the top team in the NHL with 80 points, as they look to secure the Presidents’ Trophy.
Sebastian Aho leads Carolina with 57 points (24g-33a), followed by Vincent Trochek with 43 points (17g-26a) and then Andrei Svechnikov (15g-27a) and Dougie Hamilton (10-32a) with 42 points apiece. Nino Neiderreiter has 20 goals for the Canes, and Jordan Staal has 16 tallies. Petr Mrazek is 6-1-3 in net for Carolina; Alex Nedeljkovic is 15-5-3.
The Predators are 16-17-(1)-4 all-time against the Hurricanes, including a 10-7-(0)-1 record at Bridgestone Arena. The two teams will meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. It will be the first-ever playoff matchup between the two franchises.
Nashville defeated Carolina for the first time this season on Saturday night; the Predators are 1-5-1 against the Hurricanes in 2020-21. Monday’s game will be the eighth and final contest versus Carolina this season, and the fourth at Bridgestone Arena.
Saturday’s victory was Nashville’s first versus Carolina since Nov. 29, 2019 and its first on home ice since Oct. 8, 2015. The Predators are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games against Carolina at Bridgestone Arena.
Notables Versus Carolina:
Mattias Ekholm (1g-3a) is Nashville’s leading scorer against Carolina this season with four points. Ryan Ellis owns 10 points (2g-8a) in 16 career games against the Hurricanes, including points in six of seven contests (1g-6a) from Jan. 6, 2015 to March 9, 2019.
Matt Duchene has 12 points (4g-8a) in 25 career contests against Carolina. Ryan Johansen has 12 points (4g-8a) in 24 career meetings with the Hurricanes and had a four-game point streak (1g-3a) against Carolina from Jan. 27, 2014-Nov. 4, 2014.
Preds Lights Pregame Show Continues at Bridgestone Arena:
Preds Lights, presented by SmileDirectClub, allows Preds fans to be a part of the show. Continuing tonight and through the playoffs, pregame hype in the arena will start with an all-inclusive light show, and you play a role.
This new technology sends ultrasonic audio waves straight to your phone and connects you with every fan in Smashville without having to be connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
When the pregame show starts, pull up your Preds Lights app and every fan’s phone will sync straight to the FangVision video board and audio system to make your phone part of the pregame show action, while bringing you exclusive new content like never before.
Download the “Preds Lights” app (available for free on iOS and Android) in the app store and allow each permission. At your next Preds game you will be prompted to take out your Preds Lights app before the game starts. All you need to do is open up the app and become a part of the show!
When You Go:
Protective masks are required to be worn appropriately over the nose and mouth at all times inside venues, unless actively eating or drinking in designated locations. (Face coverings must be worn in all areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations. When food is in hand and actively being consumed, the face covering may be removed. Guests holding beverages are asked to wear a facial covering between each sip.)
Bridgestone Arena has a no bag policy*. Small, clear bags 9″ x 7″ x 2″ or smaller will be permitted following X-Ray screening. Guests attending events with approved bags may experience longer entry times, for expedited entry please leave bags at home.
*Medical bags and parenting bags will be permitted following X-Ray screening. Backpacks of any kind are not permitted.
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for this evening’s 7 p.m. CT puck drop from Nashville begins at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show on Bally Sports South hosted by Lyndsay Rowley and Terry Crisp. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6 p.m. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).