Jets-Predators Preview

The Associated Press

The Nashville Predators are fighting for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, though a recent slump hasn't helped their chances.

The Winnipeg Jets gladly would settle for any postseason spot in the East.

Nashville seeks its sixth win in the last eight meetings when it hosts Winnipeg on Saturday night.

The Predators (42-24-8) are tied with Chicago for fifth in the West, one point behind Detroit, but they fell to 1-3-1 in their last five games after losing 5-1 to Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Pekka Rinne stopped 18 of 23 shots in his second straight rough outing after he allowed three goals on seven shots in just over 20 minutes before being pulled in a 6-3 loss to Edmonton on Tuesday.

Rinne went 8-1-1 with a 2.23 goals-against average Feb. 19-March 12, but he's 0-2-1 with a 3.80 GAA in his last four starts.

One bright spot from the loss was the season debut of Alexander Radulov, who scored his first NHL goal since March 20, 2008. Radulov left the Predators after the 2007-08 season to play in the KHL, where he won two MVPs before returning to Nashville for the stretch run.

Coach Barry Trotz said Radulov will only get better as he gets re-adjusted to the NHL game.

''For all he has gone through in the last 10-12 days, he hasn't skated a lot, I thought he was fine,'' Trotz said. ''For a guy who hasn't played over here for four years, I thought he was OK.''

Sergei Kostitsyn and Jordin Tootoo each had two goals and an assist in Nashville's 6-3 win over the then-Atlanta Thrashers on April 5 in the most recent meeting, improving the Predators to 5-1-1 in the last seven matchups with the Winnipeg franchise.

The Jets, though, are coming off an important 4-3 overtime win over Washington on Friday as they fight for one of the East's final playoff spots. They pulled within four points of the eighth-place tie between the Capitals and Buffalo.

Winnipeg (35-31-8) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining in regulation on Spencer Machacek's first career goal, then Tim Stapleton scored in the extra session.

''I saw us go into desperation mode,'' Stapleton said. ''I don't think I've really seen that all year between us. We were just pressing and pressing and we stuck to the game plan, just throwing shots on net.''

The Jets had lost four of their previous six games and tied their season high for goals allowed in an 8-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Ondrej Pavelec made 20 saves and Winnipeg didn't allow a power-play goal for the first time in four games.

Ben Maxwell scored his second career goal, and Machacek said the two simply are happy to contribute after recently being called up from the minors.

"We were excited just to help out any way we can," Machacek said. "It doesn't matter if we score the goals. We just want to get the team wins, and tonight's a start.''

Rinne is 3-0-0 in three starts and one relief appearance lifetime versus Winnipeg, though he has a 3.39 GAA.

Pavelec won 3-2 in overtime in his only career start versus the Predators on Dec. 6, 2010.