PHILADELPHIA — Nine days after combining to score 13 goals in a wild game in Nashville, the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators will slug it out again Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Predators (3-2-1) scored a pair of power-play goals in the final 1:17 of the Oct. 10 contest to pull out a wild 6-5 victory.
The Flyers (4-2-0) rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to take a 5-3 lead, but their failed challenge on Scott Hartnell’s game-tying, power-play goal resulted in another penalty and led to Filip Forsberg’s game-winner with 35.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Philadelphia blitzed the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers by a combined 13-3 since.
“It’s fun when you’re winning and making plays,” said Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who picked up a goal and an assist in a 5-1 victory over Florida on Tuesday night. “As a team, we’re making a lot of plays and Coach (Dave Hakstol) is giving us the leeway to do that. That makes for fun hockey out there.”
Including the victory over Philadelphia, the Predators went 3-0-1 in their past four games. They posted 4-1 wins over the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche.
The Predators have been paced by Forsberg (five goals, four assists), P.K. Subban (goal, six assists) and Viktor Arvidsson (three goals, two assists). Arvidsson and veteran left winger Scott Hartnell, who has scored two of his three goals on the power play, have been forces in front of the net.
“Arvy is so fast and his energy level is really high,” said Predators defenseman Roman Josi, who returned to the lineup Tuesday night after missing three games with a lower-body injury. “He jumps on loose pucks, forechecks and backchecks and pressures their defense. It’s really hard to play against him.”
The Flyers were waiting until Thursday to determine whether right winger Wayne Simmonds (five goals, two assists) would be in the lineup. Simmonds left the Tuesday night game midway through the third period with a lower-body injury. If he cannot play, look for Jori Lehtera to replace him. Lehtera has been a healthy scratch in all six games this season.
The Predators are expected to be without center Nick Bonino, who missed the Tuesday night game against Colorado with a lower-body injury and was seen wearing a brace on his left ankle Monday. Bonino’s agent told The Tennessean that Bonino could miss a couple of weeks with the injury.
Both teams have been excellent on the power play this season. The Flyers are 7-for-26, led by Simmonds’ three power-play goals. The Predators are 8-for-28, with Forsberg pacing them with four goals on the man advantage.
It is a bit of a tossup over who will be in goal for Philadelphia.
The Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (1-1-0, 1.52 goals-against average, .956 save percentage) stopped 40 shots to pick up the win over the Panthers on Tuesday, his first action in 12 days. He appears to have the upper hand over Brian Elliott (3-1-0, 3.25, .884), who was not tested much in the Flyers’ drubbing of Washington.
For Nashville, Pekka Rinne (3-1-1, 2.41, .919) likely will start. He has started four straight games and has allowed only four goals in his past three starts following the 6-5 victory against the Flyers.