The Nashville Predators will be without co-leading goalscorer James Neal for the third consecutive game when they host the Wild tonight.
Neal, currently dealing with an upper-body issue, hasn’t played since a 2-0 loss to San Jose on Mar. 12. Prior to that the 27-year-old was mired in a bad slump, with just one goal in his previous 11 games.
As Neal hit the skids and eventually exited the lineup hurt, the Preds went through — and are still experiencing — their toughest stretch of the season. The club is 2-8-0 in its last 10 and has lost its grip on the Central Division; heading into tonight’s play the Preds trail St. Louis for the lead (via tiebreaker) and are just five points up on Chicago, with the ‘Hawks holding three games in hand.
As for the Wild, tonight’s game is (another) big one in the Western Conference wild card race. Minnesota holds the first of two spots with 83 points, two up on Los Angeles and three up on Winnipeg — and the Jets are in action tonight, hosting San Jose.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Neuvirth faces ‘Hawks
The New York Islanders are looking to avoid their longest losing streak of the season tonight, but will have to do it without the services of their No. 1 netminder.
Jaroslav Halak will miss this evening’s tilt in Chicago with a lower-body injury, meaning Michal Neuvirth will try to keep the Isles’ skid from extending to four games.
Neuvirth, acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in exchange for Chad Johnson, has started three games for the Isles, going 1-1-1 with a .889 save percentage and 2.57 GAA. In his last outing, a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday, Neuvirth allowed just two goals on 29 shots and finished with a .931 save percentage, his best outing as an Islander to date.
For the ‘Blackhawks, Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.
Pens at Devils: Thomas Greiss (probable) vs. Cory Schneider
Sens at ‘Canes: Andrew Hammond vs. Anton Khudobin
Sabres at Bruins: (No Buffalo starter yet) vs. Niklas Svedberg
Habs at Panthers: Dustin Tokarski (probable) vs. Dan Ellis
Wild at Preds: Devan Dubnyk vs. Pekka Rinne (probable)
Sharks at Jets: Antti Niemi vs. Ondrej Pavelec
Blues at Flames: Brian Elliott vs. Jonas Hiller
Flyers at Canucks: No starters yet for either team.
L.A. Kings’ forward Jarret Stoll will miss his second game on Monday due to an upper body injury.
Stoll was injured during the Kings’ 4-0 win in Vancouver on Thursday night and has not skated since.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Stoll is still being evaluated.
“We’re not going to have a recall here today, by any means,” said Assistant GM Rob Blake. “We don’t have a timetable on Stollie yet. He’s not playing [on Monday].”
Lisa Dillman reports Stoll was injured on a third period hit from Canucks’ forward Derek Dorsett.
Blake was asked if there’s any concern that Stoll’s injury could be long-term.
“Hopefully, not,” he said. “You saw the hit. . . . The problem with that is we don’t have a timetable for that stuff.”
With Stoll set to miss a second game, Andy Andreoff will get another opportunity tonight when the Kings play host to the Arizona Coyotes.
The 23-year-old won 5 of 6 face-offs and played 8:28 in the Kings’ 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
“It’s tough. It’s been a long year,” said Andreoff, who played in just his second game since Feb. 3 on Saturday. “But I’m kind of getting used to it. You just got to make sure you’re being the hardest worker in practice and being ready for the opportunity.”
The Kings have won two of three meetings with the Coyotes this season. Monday is fourth and final game between the two clubs this season.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Ottawa sticks with Andrew Hammond
Ottawa is seven points back in the battle for a Wild Card spot with just 15 games remaining in its schedule. Under those desperate circumstances, the Senators are putting their fate in the hands of 27-year-old rookie Andrew Hammond. Given that Hammond hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his 11 appearances this season, it’s hard to fault Senators coach Dave Cameron for his desire to ride the hot hand.
The Senators will be challenged by the Philadelphia Flyers, which are coming off of a 7-2 victory over Detroit on Saturday. Steve Mason played in that contest, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see former Senators goalie Ray Emery start to provide Mason with a breather.
Panthers at Rangers: Dan Ellis will probably start for Florida while Cam Talbot has been confirmed for New York.
Canes at Blue Jackets: No word yet on Carolina, but there’s a good chance it will be Anton Khudobin after Cam Ward played Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod for Columbus.
Blues at Stars: Jake Allen will start for St. Louis. Nothing’s confirmed for Dallas, but it will likely be Kari Lehtonen.
Bruins at Capitals: Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t reveal Sunday’s starter, but Braden Holtby will probably play for Washington.
Preds at Ducks: Nothing’s confirmed, but it will likely be starters Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen between the pipes.
The Nashville Predators have been cold lately, but they picked up a big win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. James Neal wasn’t on the ice for Nashville though as he’s dealing with an upper-body injury that’s believed to be the result of cumulative strain rather than a recent event, per The Tennessean.
Neal, who also missed Saturday’s morning skate, is regarded as day-to-day. The one-time 40-goal scorer has 22 markers and 35 points in 63 games in 2014-15.
With Neal sidelined, Calle Jarnkrok came out of the press box after being scratched in two straight contests. Mike Santorelli assumed Neal’s place on a line with Colin Wilson and Mike Ribeiro.
Nashville acquired Neal from Pittsburgh in June in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. While Neal hasn’t been as prolific offensively as he was in Pittsburgh, the Predators have excelled this season with a 43-20-7 record. They’re tied with Anaheim for first place in the Western Conference ahead of Sunday’s game against the Ducks.