Kings at Predators
The Nashville Predators welcomed back a former captain on Wednesday with the unexpected return of Mike Fisher, who retired shortly after the team’s loss in the Stanley Cup Finals. While the 37-year-old Fisher will need some time to shake off the rust, the Predators will see the return of fellow forward Filip Forsberg on Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Kings.
Forsberg has been sidelined the last 11 games with an upper-body injury but still shares the team lead in goals (15) with Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith. “It’s going to be great to get all our players back and available to play,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think our guys have done a really good job of filling in for each other when they’ve been banged up.” The Predators are 6-1-1 overall in their last eight and are bidding for a season sweep after posting a pair of 4-3 wins over Los Angeles, which in turn answered a six-game skid with victories in three of its last four games. “I think the last couple of games the commitment you can see in guys, just in the little puck battles and defensively their awareness of where their guys are, that’s how we’ve got to play. We just have to keep doing this and I think we’re ready to take off if we do that,” Kings coach John Stevens said.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
ABOUT THE KINGS (27-18-5): Darcy Kuemper stepped in for an injured Jonathan Quick (undisclosed) and turned aside all 29 shots he faced in a 3-0 win at Dallas to improve his save percentage to a sterling .948 in his past 10 contests. “I am excited for the opportunity to play a couple in a row,” said the 27-year-old, who made 27 saves in a 4-3 loss to Nashville on Nov. 4. Captain Anze Kopitar notched a pair of assists against the Stars to extend his point streak to six games (one goal, seven assists) while fellow All-Star Drew Doughty has scored one goal and set up five others during his four-game point run.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (29-12-7): Forsberg’s return likely will be music to the ears of linemate Kyle Turris, who scored for the first time since Dec. 29 in Tuesday’s 2-1 setback versus Chicago. The 28-year-old exploded out of the blocks with 17 points in 17 games after being acquired from Ottawa before being limited to four (two goals, two assists) in his last 16. All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban (team-leading 25 assists, 37 points) has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in his last 19 games overall and scored one goal and set up two others in two encounters versus the Kings this season.
1. Los Angeles’ top-ranked penalty kill has thwarted all nine short-handed situations over the last two games after being ravaged for four power-play goals in the previous two.
2. Predators LW Austin Watson tallied twice in a 4-3 win over the Kings on Jan. 6, marking his only points to date since Dec. 5.
3. Los Angeles’ 15 road wins are the most in the Western Conference.