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Predators look for New Year’s Eve celebration in Vegas

Dec 30, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) moves the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators will try to complete a sweep of a road back-to-back when they face the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

The noon start time is because the two main streets around T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue, will begin getting shut down to all traffic starting around 6:30 p.m. in preparation for a New Year’s Eve celebration that is expected to attract an estimated 400,000 visitors to Sin City.

The Predators started the trip with a 6-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday afternoon to snap a two-game losing streak. Filip Forsberg, playing in his 600th NHL game, led the way with a goal and two assists while Juuse Saros turned away 26 shots.

Nashville finished with a 43-27 edge in shots, including 30-18 over the final two periods when they scored five unanswered goals.

“We’re almost halfway through the season, so there’s a lot of hockey left,” Forsberg said, “but I haven’t felt like we’ve played our best hockey yet. And this was a step in the right direction. But as we know, you’re never better than your last game in this league, so we’ve got to go back in and do it again (Saturday).”

“We played fast,” added Predators forward Colton Sissons, who had a goal and an assist. “And I feel like we’re executing really well and moving the puck up the ice and we made it hard on (the Ducks). They couldn’t really catch their breath through periods of the game when we were kind of rolling the lines over. So, hopefully we can continue that (Saturday against the Golden Knights).”

Vegas brings a two-game losing streak into the contest after losing both ends of a Southern California back-to-back, 4-2 against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday and then 3-2 in a shootout against the Ducks on Wednesday. The Golden Knights fell at Anaheim despite finishing with a 51-27 edge in shots as Ducks goalie John Gibson made a season-high 49 saves.

Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry scored in the first two rounds of the shootout while Gibson turned away tries by Mark Stone and Reilly Smith to hand Vegas a frustrating loss.

“Definitely not happy with one point,” said Stone, who scored his fourth goal in the past four games. “You can’t leave those games up to chance against a team like that.”

The Ducks took a 2-0 lead in the first 12 1/2 minutes on a pair of goals by Adam Henrique before Vegas rallied to tie it on a short-handed breakaway goal by Stone and Ben Hutton’s first goal of the season in the second period. Gibson stopped Stone on another point-blank, short-handed try in the third period.

The Golden Knights finished 0-for-5 on the power play, including one five-on-three advantage that covered 1:50 in the opening period.

“(Fifty-one) shots, you’ve got to find a way to score more than two goals,” Stone said. “We put ourselves behind the eight-ball when we spotted them a 2-0 lead. Against a team like that, you’re not happy walking away with one point. You’ve got to beat them.”

Added Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who had a game-high 34:16 in time on ice, “I think we did a lot of good things. Those games are frustrating when you feel like you did a lot but you just couldn’t find a way to score.”

–Field Level Media