Injury-riddled Predators look to keep winning vs. Devils

The old adage is that when a player is injured, opportunities for other players open up. Ryan Hartman has taken advantage of that situation for the banged-up Nashville Predators.

Hartman will try to help the Predators to their fifth straight home win when they face the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.

Nashville (21-10-1) remains one of the league's top teams in spite of a rash of injuries to key players. Viktor Arvidsson, who's scored 68 goals since the start of the 2016-17 season, has been on injured reserve since Nov. 11 with a broken thumb and Filip Forsberg (team-high 14 goals this season) was placed on IR on Dec. 1, reportedly with a hand injury.

Hartman has moved into a spot on the top line and scored in Thursday's 4-3 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks. He is averaging nearly 18 minutes of ice time over the last seven games and being called upon more for special teams play.

"You can see the poise that he plays with. He's playing really confident right now, holding on to the puck and really seeing the plays unfold," said Colton Sissons, who scored the game-winner and has three goals and two assists in a season-high four-game points streak.

Hartman already has nine goals in 32 games after collecting 11 in 78 contests with the Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks last season.

"The speed in which he's playing, the offense in which he's showing. He's playing the game on the edge, but he's staying disciplined, and so he's doing a lot of good things out there with (Ryan) Johansen and (Kevin) Fiala," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Hartman downplayed his contributions.

"I don't really change the way I play really. I just try to be physical, get in on the puck and make plays. I don't think anything really changes," said the one-time first-round pick of the Blackhawks.

Nashville is 4-0-3 in its last seven matchups with the Devils, who have lost 13 of 16 on the road this season.

New Jersey (11-13-6) is in position for back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 13 and Nov. 15 after topping the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in overtime on Friday. The Devils rallied from two three-goal deficits before Nico Hischier's game-winner in the opening minute of the extra session withstood a review.

"We were down early, but we stick to it, we battled hard and we came back," Hischier said after lifting New Jersey to its first win in seven games that went past regulation in 2018-19.

The Devils are 0-3-2 in the back ends of games on consecutive nights.

"It's time to put it to work on the ice and make the plays and execute. It's not a matter of between the ears at this point," center Brian Boyle said.

Keith Kinkaid was pressed into service after Cory Schneider yielded three goals on seven shots in the opening 9:23. Kinkaid, who is expected to start Saturday made 32 saves in the Devils' 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville on Oct. 25 in New Jersey. He's been reached for at least three goals in seven of 10 road starts this season.

Kyle Palmieri, who assisted on all three goals against the Predators, tallied his team-high 17th goal in Friday's win. He has five goals and an assist in a four-game points streak.

Devils winger Taylor Hall sat out Friday and remains day-to-day with lower-body soreness. The Hart Trophy winner leads the team with 23 assists and 31 points and needs one goal for 200 in his career.
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