MVP Sports Channel

Stanley Cup Final Rematch: Preds vs. Penguin

Coming off the most successful season in the franchise’s history, the Preds have much to prove this year, but at the start their 20th NHL season, Nashville tasted defeat on opening night in Boston. The Predators are back in Pittsburgh tonight for a 2017 Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Penguins where both participants will be looking for their first win of the 2017-18 regular season.

Despite the late really, Nashville (0-1-0) fell, 4-3, to the Bruins in the Predators’ season opener. Viktor Arvidsson evened the game at 1-1 in the first period before the Bruins took a 4-1 lead late in the third. Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg scored late on the power play to make it close before the final horn.

The Penguins (0-1-1) already played twice already this season, falling 5-4 in OT to St. Louis on opening night, before being blasted 10-1 in Chicago 24 hours later. Tonight marks three games in four nights for Pittsburgh, who is also searching for their first win.

Despite being just a regular-season game, tonight’s contest (at 6 p.m. CT) seems to mean a little bit more to Nashville after they fell in six games in the Cup Final to Pittsburgh just a few months ago.

This is the  final stop in a two-game road trip to begin the season for Nashville.  The Preds may see some lineup changes from Thursday’s grouping.

Winger Kevin Fiala is out for tonight’s contest with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Defenseman Samuel Girard skated alongside Alexei Emelin on Friday. If Girard suits up tonight, it would be the 19-year-old’s NHL debut.

“It is nice to have a chance to go back there right away at the beginning of the season,” Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said of facing the Penguins. “It was unbelievable to be in the Final, and it was emotional when we lost it, so it is nice to have an opportunity right away to play against them.

The Predators are 11-10-2-2 against the Penguins all-time, including a 4-6-2-0 record on the road. The two teams split the regular-season series in 2016-17, with the Preds emerging victorious in a 5-1 win at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 22, 2016. Nashville has outscored Pittsburgh 9-1 in its last two regular-season wins over the Penguins.

The Predators showed a need for speed in their game as a glaring issue in Thursday’s loss in Boston. How much of that was corrected in Friday’s practice will show this evening.

“Playing desperate, playing fast and getting back to how we were playing in the playoffs is important,” Nashville forward Craig Smith said. “You can take the bits and pieces of our mindset going into some of those games and apply it now. I think that can definitely help us play a little bit faster.”

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