Preds put Neal, Nystrom on IR

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Nashville’s forward depth is about to get its biggest test of the season.

On Thursday, the club placed wingers James Neal — who’s missed the last three games with a lower-body injury — and Eric Nystrom on injured reserve, recalling forward Miikka Salomaki from AHL Milwaukee to fill the void.

Neal, who sits second on the team in goals (13), hasn’t played since a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Dec. 30 — a game in which he scored twice. Nystrom, who has nine points in 39 games this year, played 12:50 in Tuesday’s win over Carolina and assisted on Roman Josi’s game-winner in the third period, so it’s unclear exactly what’s ailing him at the moment.

As for Salomaki, he was taken in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but has yet to make his big league debut. The Finnish forward has 16 points in 26 games for Milwaukee this season, and finished fifth among AHL rookies in scoring last year with 50 points.

As mentioned above, the Neal/Nystrom injuries really thin out Nashville’s forward group. During the morning skate in advance of tonight’s tilt versus Dallas, Craig Smith took Neal’s spot on the top line next to Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro, while Salomaki skated on a wing with Calle Jarnkrok and Olli Jokinen.

Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher and Mark Arcobello also rushed together, as did Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad and Viktor Stalberg.