Nashville Predators

Leafs expected to be one of the busiest teams at the deadline

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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis is on a scouting tour looking for trade partners.

Nonis was in Nashville on Thursday night watching the Predators and Anaheim Ducks. He also took in Saturday’s Kings-Lightning game in Tampa Bay.

According to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox (via Elliotte Friedman), the Leafs are nowhere close to contract extensions with Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli or Daniel Winnik. All three are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after this season and are available via trade.

Additionally, the Leafs are reportedly willing to part ways with center Tyler Bozak. Friedman said he’s hearing the 28-year-olds name in trade rumors. Bozak has three years remaining on his five-year, $21 million contract, which carries a cap hit of $4.2 million.

Despite rumors of Brendan Shanahan looking for Nonis’ replacement, the 48-year-old executive is expected to remain in his position through the trade deadline.

Toronto snapped its 11-game skid with a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. The Leafs play host to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Preds beat Rangers, lose Wilson to upper-body injury

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Colin Wilson hasn’t gotten a ton of credit for the Nashville Predators’ big improvement this season, but he’s really found chemistry alongside Mike Fisher. He faced a setback on Saturday, however, as he suffered an upper-body injury and will not return against the New York Rangers.

Wilson was injured by what was regarded as a clean Daniel Girardi hit.

He wasn’t the only player to get banged up in this one, either, as Jesper Fast suffered a leg injury from an Anton Volchenkov check. He also will not return on Saturday.

The game wasn’t all ugly despite those losses. The pace of the game was often frantic, and there were goals like Ryan McDonagh’s undressing of Eric Nystrom:

Update: Mike Ribeiro scored the game-winner for the 700th point of his NHL career.

Ducks sit atop NHL after spoiling Rinne’s return

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Pekka Rinne is a big part of the reason the Predators have been one of the NHL’s best teams this season, but he couldn’t save them in his return from a knee injury as Nashville suffered a 5-2 loss to Anaheim last night.

The Predators goaltender showed his rust early when he bungled a rebound attempt that led to Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg scoring a shorthanded goal just 3:08 minutes into the contest.

“It wasn’t a great start,” Rinne said, per the Predators’ website. “Obviously, right away I put us behind the eight ball. Originally, I probably felt a little rusty, but after that start, I felt all right. A few unlucky bounces and a couple of tips; not the way that you want to start.”

He finished with 21 saves on 25 shots. At the other end of the ice, Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen turned aside an incredible 44 of 46 shots.

With that, Anaheim has now claimed eight of its last 10 games to improve to 34-12-6. That gives the Ducks a two-point edge over Nashville and puts them atop the NHL’s standings. Outside of Nashville, Anaheim also has fierce competition for the Presidents’ Trophy in St. Louis and Tampa Bay. That being said, even if the Ducks are successful in finishing with the best record in the NHL, they will still be judged almost exclusively on their playoff performance.

After all, the Ducks have had some great regular seasons over the last couple of years. They just need to demonstrate that they’re ready to carry that into the playoffs.

Related:

Will Nashville ‘go for it’ at trade deadline?

Ducks scratch Getzlaf because of lower-body injury

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Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators has the makings of a great test for two top Western Conference teams, especially with Pekka Rinne returning, but it sounds like Ryan Getzlaf won’t play.

Multiple sources including Thomas Willis of the Predators’ website and the OC Register’s Eric Stephens report that Getzlaf is a late scratch for this contest.

Update: Stephens reports that the Ducks said Getzlaf had been dealing with a lower-body injury that he aggravated during warm-ups. He’s considered day-to-day at the moment.

Goalie nods: Pekka back for Preds

All the latest from the blue paint…

Rinne Returns

Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.

Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.

For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth

Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner

Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.

‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith

Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.