Flyers-Predators Preview

The Associated Press

The Nashville Predators keep winning, but gaining ground in a tightly packed Central Division is proving to be a tougher challenge.

Looking to win its fourth straight game Saturday night, Nashville will face a Philadelphia Flyers team trying to draw closer to the top of the Atlantic.

Nashville (24-15-4) comes into this contest having won six of seven. Despite the surge, the Predators are stuck in fourth in the Central, five points behind first-place Chicago.

"It seems like everyone else is winning six out of seven too, so it's kind of tough. You've got to keep winning obviously. Other teams are winning, so we have to keep winning," center David Legwand said.

That's something the Predators have yet to do at home over the Flyers in regulation, posting two losses, two ties and two shootout victories.

Nashville completed a home-and-home sweep of Colorado with a 3-2 overtime victory Thursday. Two nights earlier, the Predators rolled to a 4-1 win in Denver.

"We had a chance to get four points in the standings, that was our goal," coach Barry Trotz said.

Legwand scored his second goal of the game 34 seconds into the extra period Thursday, tying Patric Hornqvist for the team lead with 12. The Preds' first-ever draft pick in 1998, Legwand has no goals in 11 career games versus the Flyers.

Nashville has one of the top-ranked power-play units in the league, converting on 21.3 percent of its opportunities. However, when facing the Flyers at home, the Predators have tallied one goal in 17 chances with the man advantage.

Pekka Rinne, who's surrendered five goals during the Preds' three-game run, has given up seven while posting a win and a loss versus the Flyers. Rinne is tied with Ottawa's Craig Anderson for second in the NHL with 22 wins.

Philadelphia (26-12-4), in search of its third straight win, trails the Atlantic-leading New York Rangers by two points.

The Flyers began a four-game road trip with a 6-4 loss to the Senators on Sunday before notching one-goal wins over Eastern Conference doormats Carolina and the New York Islanders.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves and moved to 7-0 all-time against the Islanders with Thursday's 3-2 win.

"He's been strong for us, no doubt. He was really sharp," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of Bobrovsky, who's 10-3-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average - more than a half a goal less than that of No. 1 goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Now in his second season, Bobrovsky beat the Predators the only time he faced them, turning aside 26 shots in a 3-2 victory Feb. 3 in Philadelphia.

Bryzgalov - 2-4-1 with a 4.11 GAA since Dec. 17 - is 3-3-3 with a 2.49 GAA in his career at Nashville.

Scott Hartnell opened the scoring Thursday with his team-high 19th goal and 12th on the road, also a team best. He has one assist in three games against Nashville, which selected him sixth overall in 2000 and traded him in 2007 for Kimmo Timonen.

The Flyers, who have the most road wins in the East with 16, are looking for their first victory in Tennessee since March 21, 2000.

The teams close their season series Feb. 2 in Philadelphia.

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