Streaking Preds battle 'Canes

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(SportsNetwork.com) - Peter Laviolette and the Nashville Predators will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to five games when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Tuesday's battle at PNC Arena.

The Predators ended November on a four-game winning streak, giving the franchise their longest stretch of consecutive wins since Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2013. Nashville hasn't posted five straight victories since Jan. 19-31, 2012.

With a 16-5-2 record, Nashville is one of the NHL's most surprising teams this season. The Preds enter Tuesday tied with St. Louis for first place in the Central Division and can take over sole possession of the top spot with the Blues idle tonight.

The Predators are coached by Laviolette, who is experiencing a terrific first season in the Music City. Laviolette, of course, was the head coach in Carolina from 2003-09 and led the Hurricanes to their one and only Stanley Cup title in the spring of 2006.

Laviolette's boys won the first three tests of their current winning streak beyond regulation, but Nashville earned its latest victory in 60 minutes, downing the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, on Saturday.

Colin Wilson's goal with 2:12 remaining pushed the Preds to the win over the Blue Jackets. Mike Ribeiro also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne recorded 21 saves to earn the win.

"Since I've been here we tend to get into close games," said Wilson. "It's good to get some wins in where it's tight and you learn how to win in certain situations."

Rinne improved to 16-3-1 this season and on Monday was named as the NHL's Third Star for the month of November. He went 10-1-0 last month. Nashville's No. 1 goaltender is leading the league in wins and is sporting a 1.82 goals against average and .933 save percentage.

Filip Forsberg also was named the league's top rookie in November after posting nine goals and six assists last month.

Carolina lost for the fourth time in five games its last time out. The Hurricanes lost the back end of a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh on Saturday, dropping the home portion after notching a 4-2 win Friday in the Steel City.

The Hurricanes lost 3-2 in regulation against the visiting Penguins. Thomas Greiss made 32 saves for Pittsburgh, while Roberto Bortuzzo, Christian Ehrhoff and Chris Kunitz scored for the Pens.

Justin Faulk tallied just over 3 1/2 minutes in to give Carolina an early edge, but the Hurricanes didn't get another past Greiss until Eric Staal's power-play tally with 11.7 seconds remaining. Anton Khudobin stopped 30 shots in the loss.

The Hurricanes began a five-game homestand Saturday and fell to 4-4-1 in Raleigh this season. Carolina has lost three in a row on home ice since beating Calgary on Nov. 10.

Carolina has won three straight in the series with the Predators after losing the previous six encounters. Nashville has lost two in a row and three of its past five at PNC Arena.

Rinne is 3-0 with a 1.63 GAA in his career against Carolina. Cam Ward is expected to start for the 'Canes and is 1-4-1 with a 2.98 GAA in this series.