The Nashville Predators enjoyed rampaging through three games in Western Canada last week, and return home for an important Central Division matchup against the Winnipeg Jets playing as well as anybody in the NHL. The Predators are 6-0-1 in December after beating Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary by a combined 13-1, and an 11-1-2 stretch in the past 14 games has vaulted Nashville into a first-place tie with St. Louis in the division and the Western Conference standings.
“We’re having fun,” Predators center Kyle Turris told reporters after Saturday’s game, in which Nashville posted its second consecutive shutout. “We’re gaining chemistry and just having a good time at the rink. We’re understanding that every game night we have a job to do, and we’re making sure we get things done.” The Jets appeared to shake off a slight stumble over the weekend, playing well in a loss at St. Louis on Saturday before a dominant 4-0 home victory over the Blues on Sunday as Connor Hellebuyck stopped 24 shots. Winnipeg outshot the Blues 94-54 in the two-game set as Patrik Laine scored his 10th power-play goal of the season and the Jets continue to get production from all four lines. “There are no off nights in our division,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler told reporters after Sunday’s victory. “I think that’s the way you want it, though, because when push comes to shove and you’re in games that really mean something, then you’re groomed for it.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TSN3 (Winnipeg), FSN Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE JETS (19-10-5): Wheeler has scored three goals with 11 assists in his past 11 games, and began the week tied for second in the league with 31 assists. Defenseman Josh Morrissey (one goal, one assist) and center Andrew Copp (two assists) recorded multiple points Sunday, and the Jets broke open the contest with two goals in a 1:51 stretch of the third period. Hellebuyck posted his second shutout of the season and is ninth in the league in goals against average (2.45) entering Monday.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (21-7-4): Pekka Rinne made 32 saves in recording his 46th career shutout Saturday, improving to 9-1-1 with just 22 goals allowed in his past 11 starts. Turris has helped fuel Nashville’s spurt in 17 games since being acquired from Ottawa, scoring four goals with 13 assists and bringing a seven-game point streak into Tuesday. The Predators lead the Western Conference in goal differential (plus-23).
1. The Jets have lost their past six road games, while Nashville is 11-2-2 at home.
2. Predators F Viktor Arvidsson recorded his 100th career point Saturday with an assist on a Ryan Johansen goal.
3. Nashville took the first meeting of the season with the Jets at home on Nov. 20, a 5-3 victory in which six Predators finished with two points and Jets F Mathieu Perreault scored twice.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Jets 2