PREDATORS (1-0-2) at BLUES (2-1-0)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 444/HD: 9514; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues meet for the second time in four days tonight at the Scottrade Center. On Monday in Nashville, the teams went to a shootout with St. Louis prevailing, 4-3. Four of the last six games between Nashville and St. Louis have gone to a shootout, and dating back to 2005-06 when the shootout was implemented, Nashville has gone to a shootout with the Blues 13 times, more than any other team (8-5 record). Despite the loss, Nashville is 4-1-2 against the Blues since the beginning of last season, and 41-29-12 all-time in the series. While the Preds play Chicago and Columbus five times in 2012-13, they only meet St. Louis and Detroit four times; the Predators will circle back through the Gateway to the West in the final game of this seven-game road trip (Feb. 5), and the final meeting is set for April 9 in Nashville.
Patric Hornqvist paced the Predators offense in Monday’s game with his ninth career three-point performance (1g-2a), while Mike Fisher (1g-1a) and Martin Erat (2a) also had multi-point efforts. Also of note, Scott Hannan finished the night with seven blocked shots – the same total as the entire St. Louis Blues lineup, and Pekka Rinne stopped 36 shots. Nashville has not lost in regulation when Rinne makes 35 saves or more in a game since Dec. 26, 2010 – he went 14-0-2 in 2011-12, was 8-0-0 in 2010-11, and won the last three games of 2009-10 when he hit the 35-save plateau.
Hornqvist now has 13 points (5g-8a) in 18 career games against St. Louis… David Legwand has played 67 career games against the Blues – more than any Predator player against any opponent all-time – posting 33 points (11g-22a)… Erat has six points (2g-4a) in his last five games against the Blues… For their careers, Pekka Rinne (12-6-4 record) and Chris Mason (13-4-2 record) have combined to post a 25-10-6 record against St. Louis, with Rinne putting up a 1.94 goals-against average and a .933 goals-against average while Mason possesses a 2.05 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
With David Legwand’s power-play insurance marker with 17 seconds remaining on Tuesday, the Predators have now posted at least one man-advantage goal in each of their first three games this season. Nashville has potted four goals on 10 man-advantage chances this season (40 percent) to rank sixth in the League. A season ago, Nashville led the League in power play efficiency after scoring 54 goals on 250 advantages (21.6 percent).
ERAT OUT IN FRONT
After pacing Nashville with a career-high 58 points (19g-39a) a season ago, Martin Erat has now reached the scoresheet in each of Nashville’s outings this season. He followed a two-point performance (2a) on Monday against the Blues by notching the game-winner on Tuesday in the Twin Cities. He also posted a goal in the Preds season opener against Columbus on Saturday. The Trebic, Czech Republic native is now tied for the team lead in scoring and is tied for 15th in the League with four points (2g-2a).
CHRIS MASON RETURNS
Goaltender Chris Mason made his season debut on Tuesday night against Minnesota, picking up his first win in a Predators sweater since April 1, 2008 – a 4-3 overtime win against St. Louis. The 2012-13 season is Mason’s third stint with the club after being acquired via trade in 1998 and through waivers in 2003. The Red Deer, Alta., native has posted a 59-43-12 record with a 2.59 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and 12 shutouts in 136 games with the Predators (1998-2002, 2003-08, 2012-13).
Mason’s second stint with the Preds ended when he was traded to the Blues on June 20, 2008. In 118 games with St. Louis from 2008-10, he posted a 57-43-15 record with a 2.47 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and eight shutouts.
The 13-year NHL veteran has posted a 137-106-(1)-34 record with a career 2.62 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 307 games with Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg/Atlanta.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 3, Minnesota 1
Nashville has now beat Minnesota in four straight games for the first time in franchise history… Nick Spaling opened the scoring for Nashville with his first goal of the season. He has posted five goals in nine career games against the Wild. Spaling also added an assist on David Legwand’s PPG for his first multiple-point game since October 27, 2011 (1g-1a vs. Tampa Bay)... Martin Erat notched the 161st goal of his career. He ranks second on Nashville’s all-time goals and points list (161g-303a-464pts). Erat also led all Nashville skaters with five shots on goal… Legwand (1g), Kevin Klein (1a) and Brandon Yip (1a) all posted their first points of the 2012-13 season… Shea Weber paced all skaters with 27:30 of ice time. Nashville’s captain ranks fifth in the League in the category this season (27:10)… Mike Fisher recorded five blocks on the night and now leads all League forwards in the category.
A FRANCHISE RECORD ROAD TRIP
Tonight marks the second stop of a franchise record tying seven-game road swing; the Predators also played seven straight on the road from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2002. The trip will last 15 days, and see the team go to Minnesota, St. Louis, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose, then back to St. Louis to wrap things up on Feb. 5. Nashville’s next game in the Music City will be Feb. 7 against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE CENTRAL
This season’s 48-game schedule configuration calls for the Predators to play two Central Division opponents five times (Columbus and Chicago), two Central Division opponents four times (Detroit and St. Louis), and all other Western Conference teams three times each. A season ago, the Preds had the second-best intra-conference record, going 40-19-5 against the West versus 8-7-3 against the Eastern Conference. More importantly, Nashville posted a 16-5-3 (.729) against the Central Division, which along with the Atlantic, became the first two divisions to have four teams reach the 100-point plateau since the NHL went to its current format for the 1993-94 season. That was good for the third-best intra-divisional winning percentage behind only Boston (19-4-1, .813) and Vancouver (18-5-1, .771), each of whom were the lone 100-point teams in the Northeast and Northwest Divisions, respectively.
BUILDING ON LAST SEASON’S MOMENTUM
Nashville finished the 2011-12 regular season ranked in the Top 10 of each of the following categories: points, goals for, goals against, power play and penalty kill. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks were the only other team to do so.
The Preds posted the League’s fifth-highest point total (104) and tied with Vancouver and Philadelphia for third in regulation/overtime victories (43)
Nashville ranked eighth in goals per game (2.83) and tied for eighth in goals against average (2.50) in 2011-12. Only Boston, Detroit and Vancouver ranked among the League’s Top 10 in both goals for and goals against.
The Predators were one of just three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both power-play percentage (first) and penalty kill percentage (10th) during the 2011-12 campaign. Vancouver and Pittsburgh were the only other teams to rank in the Top 10 in both categories. Prior to 2011-12, Nashville had never ranked higher than 10th in power-play efficiency, while the PK finished in the Top 10 for the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. Nashville’s special teams finished a +15 in 2011-12, compared to +3 the season prior.
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