Tired Predators ready to host Islanders
In their last home game before their yearly CMA road trip, the Nashville Predators will try to defeat fatigue and the New York Islanders Saturday night in Bridgestone Arena.
Less than 24 hours after getting 43 saves from Pekka Rinne in a 2-1 victory at Chicago, Nashville (5-3-2) takes on a New York team that practiced in Nashville Friday after suffering a 6-4 defeat Thursday night in Minnesota.
The Islanders (5-4-1) continued two early-season trends with one loss -- poor special teams play and the inability to win on the road. New York coughed up two short-handed goals and went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. It has permitted five goals while on the power play and is last in the NHL with a 6.1 success rate with the extra skater.
"If we had all the answers, I don't think we'd be in this situation," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "We just got to compete and look at how hard the penalty kill is working out there. We want our work ethic to be high and obviously with the skill we have on the ice, you don't want to try and do too much.
"You want to keep it simple and go from there."
The result dropped New York to 2-4-0 away from Barclays Center. It has been outscored 21-15 in road games, allowing at least three markers in every game but a 3-1 win Oct. 14 at San Jose.
The Predators, who are 3-0-1 at home and have tallied 16 goals on their ice, don't seem like the ideal opponent against whom to turn things around.
"We look like a bad road team with the exception of two or three forwards," Islanders coach Doug Weight said.
Presumably, those forwards would be Tavares, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee. Tavares and Bailey are clicking along at a point-per-game pace, while Lee's six goals match Tavares for the team high.
Jaroslav Halak (3-2-0, 2.72) could get the start in net for New York after Thomas Griess was strafed for six goals on 33 shots Thursday night. Halak has enjoyed tremendous success in his career against Nashville, going 13-3-4 with a 1.80 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
The Islanders could catch a break for this one. Rinne might get the night off after his heavy workload in Chicago, which would mean a start for young backup Juuse Saros. It would only be the third start this season for Saros (0-2-0, 3.53), who has stopped just 41 of 48 shots so far.
After being outshot 21-7 in a rocky first period Friday night, the Predators gained more traction in the second and third periods. Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith scored in the second period -- Smith's was his 100th career tally -- and Rinne stoned the Blackhawks in the third.
"I thought we made some good adjustments," Smith said. "There were a lot of penalties tonight, but I thought we handled it well and stayed positive."
Following Saturday night, Nashville vacates its building for two weeks for the CMA Awards Show. It will take a California road trip next week and then visit Columbus Nov. 7 before it plays at home again on Nov. 11 in a Stanley Cup Finals rematch with Pittsburgh.
Updated October 28, 2017