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Predators hit hard by injuries just as they are starting to play well

Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

DENVER, CO - MARCH 05: James Neal #18 of the Nashville Predators awaits a face off against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on March 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Predators defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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The Nashville Predators open a quick two-game road trip on Sunday night when they visit the Winnipeg Jets and they are going to be doing it with a shorthanded roster thanks to a sudden rash of injuries.

The team announced on Saturday that forwards James Neal and Colton Sissons, as well as defenseman Ryan Ellis, have been placed on injured reserve and will not accompany the team on their trip to Winnipeg and Colorado. Ellis has not played since Nov. 23 against the Dallas Stars, while Neal and Sissons were both in the lineup for Nashville’s most recent game, a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Neal had to exit that game after two periods, while Sissons was injured when he was boarded by Brandon Tanev.

All three players are out with what the team is calling upper body injuries.

To replace them on the roster the team had to call up Kevin Fiala, Mike Liambas and Petter Granberg from Milwaukee of the America Hockey League.

The timing is rough for the Predators because they had finally started to get on a roll and play like the team they were expected to be when the season began. After starting the season with wins in just two of their first eight games, they have put together an 8-2-2 run over the past 12 and climbed back into a playoff position. Neal has been one of the players that has made a huge impact during this recent hot streak with nine goals over the past 10 games. With 10 goals overall on the season he is on pace for what would be a second straight 30-goal season in Nashville.

Ellis is one of the Predators’ top defensemen and has spent most of the season playing alongside Roman Josi. His possession numbers have dropped so far this season, but he is still one of their most reliable defenders and a 24-minute per night player.