After salvaging a win in Calgary on Saturday to even the season record at 3-3-1, the Nashville Predators return to Bridgestone Arena tonight to face the San Jose Sharks (3-3-0).
The Predators have been inconsistent in their first seven contests and have been out-shot by an average of 34 to 22. The team has already lost 24 man-games due to injury with Marty Erat on injured reserve and Cal O'Reilly not being at full speed.
The good news is that two veteran players who have not played this season, may be available for tonight's contest. Mike Fisher Tweeted that he has been cleared to play and Francis Bouillon was also seeking final medical clearance to return from a January concussion.
The Sharks opened their season with a convincing 6-3 home win over Phoenix and then proceeded to lose three in a row. Over the weekend, they won in a shootout at New Jersey and then beat Boston 4-2 in a solid road game against the Stanley Cup champs.
Injuries have also plagued the Sharks, but not to their top players other than goalie Antti Niemi (2-1-0, 2.63, .900) who missed the opener and back-up goalie Antero Niittymaki who is out indefinitely. Thomas Greiss (1-2-0, 2.36, .901) has handled the back-up duties thus far in the season.
It is assumed that Pekka Rinne (3-3-1, 2.50, .924) will be in net tonight after his 2-0 shutout on Saturday that tied Tomas Vokoun for the all-time franchise lead with 21. Anders Lindback (0-0-0, 1.50, .958) has yet to get a start this season, having played only two periods in relief in Vancouver.
The Predators were 2-0-2 against the Sharks last season with all four games being decided by a single goal. All-time, the Predators have held their own in the regular season against San Jose, going 20-21-7 but struggled in the playoffs, losing the opening round playoff series 4-1 in both 2006 and 2007.
A true peculiarity between the two teams occurred on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft day in 2008 when the Preds were on the clock in the fourth round. San Jose traded up with the Preds in order to draft goaltender Harri Sateri, who was the Sharks back-up on opening night this season.
In return, the Preds moved down to the seventh round that day and took Anders Lindback. Additionally, they got a fourth-round selection in the 2009 draft that they used to select Craig Smith.
Puck drop will be shortly after 7 p.m. CDT and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee. Discount tickets are still available by going here and using the offer code Preds.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass