Predators put 10-game streak on line vs. Devils

Taylor Hall's club-record 26-game point streak ended Thursday night in the New Jersey Devils' 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Hall will try to get back on the scoresheet against the NHL's hottest team Saturday night when New Jersey starts a potentially season-defining six-game road trip against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Hall's 30 goals and 44 assists have landed him squarely in the middle of Hart Trophy conversation. For Hall to become the favorite to win the award, he probably needs a big finish that lifts the Devils (34-26-8) into a surprising Eastern Conference playoff bid.

They go into this game with the final wild-card spot and one point behind Columbus for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. The bigger concern might be surging Florida, which is three points behind with three games in hand.

That's why goalie Cory Schneider might have been so hard on himself after the loss to Winnipeg. The Devils outshot the Jets 43-24 but never led.

Schneider blamed himself for allowing a quick goal to Patrik Laine that forced the Devils into chase mode.

"It's on me to dig deep and find a way to execute better and just be better all the way around for them," Schneider said to NJ.com. "It's not a fun feeling, but it's not something you can wallow in or feel bad for yourself.

"It's not fair for my teammates to have other goalies come in here and outplay me on a regular basis lately. So it's just good enough by me by any means."

Schneider (17-14-6, 2.81 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) will try to turn things around in perhaps the toughest building for a road team in the league. Nashville (44-14-9) is 24-7-3 at home, including Thursday night's 4-2 win over Anaheim that stretched its franchise-record winning streak to 10 games.

The Predators, who are six points clear of the Jets in the Central Division and six ahead of Vegas for the top record in the Western Conference, trail Tampa Bay by just one point for the league's best record. They have displayed depth, balance and defense during their streak.

"We don't talk about it too much," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said of the streak. "We talk about winning the game. Usually, we just try to stay in the moment, stay in the day. We don't talk too much about the past. If you just focus on the day-to-day work, good things usually will happen."

That was the case Jan. 25 in the Predators' only meeting this year with the Devils. P.K. Subban scored an early goal to put Nashville ahead, Pekka Rinne stoned everything New Jersey threw at him and the Predators left Newark with a 3-0 victory, one of Rinne's six shutouts this season.

Rinne (37-9-4, 2.28, .928) has thrust himself into Vezina Trophy contention, but he could get a night off in favor of capable young backup Juuse Saros (7-5-5, 2.42, .924). Regardless of who plays, Nashville can roll four good lines and three solid-to-excellent defense pairings.

"When seven o'clock hits, we're ready to roll, we're playing with energy," Predators forward Craig Smith said. "We're more worried about the process than the results, which have been great lately."

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