(SportsNetwork.com) – Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette is set to make a
return trip to Philadelphia, but unfortunately he won’t be bringing his club’s
longest winning streak of the season with him.
Laviolette’s NHL-leading Predators hope to bounce back on Saturday afternoon
and avoid a rare losing streak as they square off against the Flyers.
Nashville had a six-game winning streak halted with Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the
New York Islanders, just the club’s second setback in 10 games this month.
The Preds now hope to avoid just their third losing streak of the season.
Neither of those previous set of games featured back-to-back regulation
Pekka Rinne was tagged for five goals on 40 shots in the loss the Islanders,
who jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Preds got goals from Filip Forsberg in
the latter stages of the first period and one by James Neal in the second
frame to make it a one-goal game.
“There were some holes tonight. There were some tough bounces, too, but we got
to be better defensively,” said Laviolette.
In Laviolette’s first season in Nashville, the Predators lead the NHL with 84
points, giving them a four-point edge over the St. Louis Blues for first place
in the Central Division.
Nashville, which wraps a three-game swing in Buffalo on Sunday, could have
both defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli in the lineup today.
The two were acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs last Sunday, but
immigration and weather issues delayed their joining of the club.
Laviolette will face the Flyers for only the second time since getting fired
by the club as its head coach following an 0-3 start to the 2013-14 season. He
had previously taken over coaching duties for the franchise mid-season in
December of 2009 and took the club to a surprising Stanley Cup Finals
appearance that season, where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six
Laviolette became just the second coach in Predators history when he replaced
Barry Trotz, who did not have his contract renewed prior to this season.
The Preds coach did get the better of his former team in a matchup in
Nashville back on Dec. 27, with Rinne making 26 saves in a 4-1 victory. The
netminder improved to 3-1-0 lifetime versus the Flyers with a 2.45 goals
against average and .927 save percentage.
It was Nashville’s second straight win in this series, but it has lost three
of its past four in Philadelphia.
The Flyers look to rebound from a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to the lowly
Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. They did record a point for the 10th time in their
past 11 games (6-1-4), but have lost four of five and sit six points behind
the Boston Bruins for an Eastern Conference wild card position.
Versus the visiting Sabres, each side scored once through the first three
rounds and then after Sean Couturier failed on his wrister, Buffalo’s Brian
Flynn used two quick dekes to pull Ray Emery out of position and slide the
deciding goal inside the right post.
Ryan White and Jakub Voracek tallied for the Flyers, while Emery ended up
with 30 stops in his sixth straight start.
“They’ve been playing pretty good hockey. If you look all of their games were
lost by one goal. They play a pretty tight game,” said Philly captain Claude
Giroux when asked if his team competed well against the struggling Sabres.
“But that isn’t an excuse. We need to find a way to get the two points.”
Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist to run his point streak to six straight
games. The forward has four goals and four assists over the run.
The Flyers will host the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon and backup
Rob Zepp figures to get the start in net today.