The Nashville Predators were one of the NHL's most active teams at Monday's trade deadline as they gear up for what they hope is a deep playoff run this spring.
Nashville made a pair of deals designed to add offensive punch before Monday's trade deadline, acquiring forward Andrei Kostitsyn from the Canadiens and picking up center Paul Gaustad from Buffalo. Kostitsyn cost Nashville a second-round draft pick and a fifth-round selection in 2013. Gaustad came to the Preds along with a fourth-round pick 2013 in exchange for a first-round selection in 2012.
The Preds have made the postseason in six of the last seven seasons, but the only time they were able to move past the opening round was last spring, when they bowed out in the Western Conference semifinals against Vancouver.
Kostitsyn joins his younger brother Sergei, also a forward for the Predators, in the Music City. Andrei, the 10th overall pick of the 2003 draft, had 12 goals and 12 assists in 53 games for Montreal this season.
The 6-foot-4, 229-pound Gaustad is a strong two-way player who has seven goals, 17 points and 70 penalty minutes in 56 games this season.
The Predators played without their two newest members on Monday evening, but were still able to post a 2-1 regulation win over Los Angeles. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves and Patric Hornqvist scored the eventual game-winner for Nashville, which has won two in a row and has recorded a point in five straight games (4-0-1).
"I thought he was really good because we weren't as good in front of him," Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said of Rinne. "We gave up too many chances and just weren't firm enough on pucks. But, that'll come."
Roman Josi also lit the lamp for the Predators, who are seeded fifth in the West and are eight points ahead of sixth-seeded Chicago.
The Preds are playing the first of two straight on the road tonight and are 16-12-2 as the guest this season. Nashville's next test isn't until Saturday, when it visits the Florida Panthers.
Nashville has had tremendous success against the Hurricanes over the years, winning six straight since Carolina last posted a win in this series on Jan. 13, 2006 in Raleigh. The Preds have claimed the last two encounters at RBC Center and are 4-0-1 with a tie in their last six trips to North Carolina.
The Hurricanes have lost their last two games, but Carolina has turned in a solid month overall, losing just once in regulation in 10 February games (5-1-4). The 'Canes are playing the fourth tilt of a six-game homestand tonight and are 16-12-5 as the host this year compared to a 7-14-8 mark on the road.
Carolina has lost its last two contests in the shootout, dropping Thursday's test against Anaheim, 3-2, and losing by the same score Saturday against visiting Florida.
Stephen Weiss scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout for the Panthers. Weiss picked up the puck and went in on goal with speed. He made a quick move to his backhand and squeezed the puck through the pads of Hurricanes' netminder Justin Peters.
Justin Faulk and Jussi Jokinen scored in regulation for the Hurricanes, while Peters made 42 saves in defeat.
"Our guys are playing as hard as they can," Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said, "As a coach, you can't ask much more than that. They're playing their hearts out."
Despite Carolina's recent effort, the club is still nine points out of a playoff spot in the East.