Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes (18-6-1, 37pts) and Nashville Predators (11-14-1, 23pts) will meet for the fourth time of the season on Thursday night.
Carolina has now won six-straight games overall and all three of this season's meetings against the Predators.
In their last meeting on Tuesday night, the Canes rallied from a two-goal deficit to send the game to overtime, where Jordan Staal capped the comeback with a game-winning goal.
In past years, Nashville and Carolina have been in separate divisions--separate conferences, in fact.
Nevertheless, this year's games have featured plenty of intensity--you might even say malice.
A week ago, Nino Niederreiter was fined $5,000 for a hit to the head of Nashville goalie Juuse Saros.
Yesterday, Dante Fabbro was suspended by the NHL for elbowing Brock McGinn at 13:47 in the second period of Tuesday's game.
In addition to targeting McGinn's head, Fabbro left his feet.
The officials on-ice only awarded a two-minute minor penalty, which left the Hurricane's bench beside themselves. Asked about the situation on Wednesday, Canes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour still seemed perplexed.
"I honestly don't understand what the rules are. If that isn't [a major penalty], I don't know what is. It's a clear elbow to the head as far as I can see. I would assume that would be a major penalty."
In net, James Reimer (11-3-0, .903 SV%, 2.83 GAA) should start after Nedeljkovic played on Tuesday. The 32-year-old Canadian is riding a three-game winning streak and has won five of his six games at PNC Arena this season.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Brind'Amour said that Petr Mrazek is still "on track" to return.
Brock McGinn had the day off on Wednesday, but Brind'Amour noted that McGinn "seems ok" after taking the elbow to the head in Tuesday's game.
As for Teuvo Teravainen, Brind'Amour said that the Canes forward is skating but "doesn't feel ready."
Jake Gardiner remains a game-time decision.
The Canes' expected lines:
Brock McGinn — Sebastian Aho — Warren Foegele
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov — Jordan Staal — Jesper Fast
Cedric Paquette — Steven Lorentz — Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Jake Bean — Haydn Fleury
Injuries: Petr Mrazek (hand surgery), Jake Gardiner (upper body), Teuvo Teravainen (concussion)
More New Faces For Nashville
The Nashville Predators were already undermanned. Now, somehow, they need to dig even deeper.
An injury to captain Roman Josi and the suspension of Dante Fabbro means Nashville head coach John Hynes has to play with a patchwork defense--many of them getting their first look at the NHL.
"I feel like you're never going to replace Roman's voice, and no one is going to replace him on the ice or off the ice," Hynes said after Tuesday's loss.
Given his team's youth and inexperience, expect Hynes to rely on what few veterans he has in his lineup, such as Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Mattias Ekholm.
Nashville had success on Tuesday with their neutral zone trap, which prevented Carolina from getting to their world-class forecheck. Expect more of that, along with lots of physicality on Thursday night.
Nashville's expected lines:
Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Viktor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund — Rem Pitlick — Calle Jarnkrok
Nick Cousins — Colton Sissons — Eeli Tovanen
Yakov Trenin — Brad Richardson — Mathieu Olivier
Mattias Ekholm — Patrick Harper
Mark Borowiecki — Matt Benning
Jeremy Davies — Ben Harpur
Injuries: Juuse Saros (upper body), Roman Josi (upper body), Ryan Ellis (upper body), Dante Fabbro (suspension), Matt Duchene (lower body), Luke Kunin (lower body), Luca Sbisa (upper body)