COYOTES (6-5-2) at PREDATORS (6-3-4)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 448/HD: 9518; 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
RINNE MAKING STRONG CASE FOR EARLY HART TROPHY CONSIDERATION
Pekka Rinne recorded his second shutout in his last three starts by turning aside all 25 San Jose Shark shots he faced on Tuesday night, bringing his career total up to 27 – the most in the NHL since 2008-09. The Kempele, Finland native is 5-1-0 in his last six outings, stopping 161 of 167 shots for a .964 save percentage and a 0.97 goals-against average. Only three of those six goals against have been at even strength, and Rinne has now allowed one goal or fewer in five of the Preds’ 13 games. Overall, Rinne is fifth in save percentage (.934) and sixth in goals-against average (1.75) among starting netminders. His 686:30 played is the fourth highest total in the League.
TEAM DEFENSE STOUT TOO
The Nashville Predators have garnered points in 10 of their first 13 games of 2012-13 – every game in which they’ve scored a goal – primarily through strong defense. The team entered Wednesday’s games with the second-lowest goals-against average in the league – and lowest in the Western Conference – at 1.77. Not only are the Predators second in the NHL in fewest even-strength goals allowed at 14, but the penalty kill has been solid of late as well. The PK has been perfect in each of the last three home games – going 11-for-11 in that span – meaning it last gave up a power-play goal at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 21 against St. Louis. Overall, the killers are 34-for-39 (87.2 percent) in the last 9 games.
Much of the defensive success has been accomplished by limiting the shots Pekka Rinne faces. The Preds blocked 18 shots on Tuesday, brining their season total to 209 – good for third in the League and just three off the lead held by the Edmonton Oilers. Both Scott Hannan (12th with 31) and Kevin Klein (T-17th with 21) rank among League leaders in blocked shots, while Mike Fisher is first in the League in blocks (22) among NHL forwards.
PREDS ON VALENTINE’S DAY
The Nashville Predators never played on Valentine’s Day until the 2006-07 season, but since 2007, they’ve played on this date in five of the last six years, posting a 4-1-0 record. Last season, Nashville topped Chicago by a 3-2 score on the day of love – which also happens to be General Manager David Poile’s birthday. In 2009 (Boston) and 2010 (Pittsburgh), the Preds topped a pair of Eastern Conference powerhouses by shootout, while the team’s first V-Day game in 2007 was a 5-0 rout of San Jose that saw Shea Weber score two goals and earn First Star honors.
WILSON IN THE CLUTCH
Colin Wilson registered his first game-winner of the season on Tuesday night when he tipped in a Ryan Ellis shot with just more than two minutes gone in the overtime frame. The marker was his second-career overtime goal and it ended a goalless streak of 176:18 (eight regulation periods and overtime against Minnesota) for the Predators.
Wilson has been an offensive catalyst for the Preds as of late after being in on seven of the last 12 Predator goals; posting seven points (3g-4a) during that span. The Greenwich, Conn., native leads the team with eight points (4g-4a) in 13 games in 2012-13. Through Wilson’s first 13 games a season ago, he posted seven points (2g-5a) on the way to a career year where he amassed 35 points (15g-20a) in 68 games for Nashville.
EXTRA TIME BECOMING THE NORM
For the seventh time in 13 games this season, more than 60 minutes were required to settle a Nashville Predators contest – the most overtime games in the NHL. Colin Wilson’s second career sudden-death goal gave the Preds their first overtime win of 2012-13 after dropping an OT decision at Minnesota on Saturday, and posting a 2-3 record in five shootout appearances in the first eight games of the campaign. A season ago, Nashville only needed the shootout 10 times (5-5) – tied for eighth fewest times in the League – and didn’t reach its fifth shootout of the campaign until Feb. 7, 2012, game No. 53. The team didn’t need extra time for a seventh time until game No. 32 on Dec. 17, 2011 against St. Louis.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 1, San Jose 0 (OT) at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville went to extra time with San Jose for the third straight game and sixth time in the last eight outings… The Predators – who have needed extra time seven times – defeated an opponent in the overtime period for the first time this season… David Legwand earned his franchise-record 17th overtime point (9g-8a) with an assist on Colin Wilson's OTG… Ryan Ellis earned his first-career overtime point with his assist on Wilson’s goal… Kevin Klein led the team with four shots and four blocked shots on the night. He has also registered a +7 rating through his last nine games… The Predators have now earned at least a point in 10-of-13 games (6‐3‐4) this season… With the shutout, Nashville saw its goals against drop to 1.77 per game, good for second in the NHL behind Ottawa (1.69)… Nashville has not allowed a first period goal in six straight outings… Tuesday night was the 10th time in franchise history the team has been shorthanded six-or-more times in a period, and first since Nov. 16, 2010 in the second period of a 5-4 loss at Toronto; it was the first time since Feb. 2, 2006 in the first period of a 4-3 win vs. Colorado that the Preds have killed off six or more penalties… Martin Erat picked up eight minutes in penalties in the second period, matching his career-high for a single game (Jan. 17, 2008 vs. Anaheim)… The Preds were perfect on the penalty kill (6‐for‐6) and have not allowed a power-play goal on home ice in three straight games. Nashville has killed off 34-of-39 (87.2 percent) penalties in its last nine games and now ranks 11th in the League (84.0 percent).
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Nashville has been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 183 home victories, tied for fourth and just two wins shy of third place. The Predators are 2-1-2 at Bridgestone Arena in 2012-13 with only Los Angeles and Chicago having played fewer games on home ice. Nashville is also the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive seasons.
The Preds have sold out a franchise-record 18 games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. L.A. Last season, the Predators sold out a record 25 games and averaged 16,690 fans, the highest average attendance in a single season. The team sold out all five 2012 playoff games, and the first five games of 2012-13 to bring the streak to 18.
Paul Gaustad remains one of the League’s top face-off men, having won 16-of-21 draws on Sunday, and 73 of his last 109 draws taken (67.6 percent) to move into second in the NHL in face-off efficiency (62.4 percent). Overall, the Predators rank seventh in face-off efficiency (52 percent)… The Predators haven't allowed a first-period goal in the past six games… Since Jonathon Blum made his season debut on Feb. 2 at San Jose, he has played in six consecutive games, with the team posting a 4-1-1 record while allowing only five goals… Shea Weber has led the Predators in ice time in 12 consecutive games and ranks seventh in the League in average ice time (26:36). Despite his high ice time, Weber has only been on the ice for three even-strength goals against… Rich Clune is the only player on the team to record a plus or even rating in every game he’s played in 2012-13, and has had only one game in his career (25 games played) with a minus rating (March 12, 2010 with L.A.). He has five fighting majors in 12 games, tied for second in the League… Nashville has scored first in nine of its 13 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (5-0-4 record).
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. PHOENIX
The Predators and Coyotes meet for the second of three times in 2012-13 tonight at Bridgestone Arena, with the Coyotes taking the first meeting of the season, 4-0, on Jan. 28 in the desert. The Phoenix win marked the first time in seven games that the home team has won when these teams have hooked up – the visitors won all four games of the 2011-12 season series and the final two games of 2010-11. Nashville’s two wins last season came on March 12, 2012, when it pulled out a 5-4 shootout win, and on Nov. 3, 2011, Pekka Rinne – celebrating his 29th birthday – signed a seven-year contract in the afternoon, then capped off the day by shutting out the Coyotes, 3-0. That victory gave Rinne four career shutouts against the Coyotes – more than he has against any other team.
Mike Fisher is averaging a point per game against Phoenix during his career with 13 points (6g-7a) in 13 games… Martin Erat led all Predators with four points (1g-3a) against Phoenix last season. He leads Nashville all-time with 26 points (10g-16a) in 36 games vs. the Coyotes… Patric Hornqvist has 10 points (6g-4a) in 12 career contests vs. Phoenix… David Legwand (3a), Sergei Kostitsyn (3a) and Craig Smith (1g-2a) all had three points in four games vs. the Coyotes in 2011-12… Rinne is 8-6-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and four shutouts in 15 career games against Phoenix… Brian McGrattan was acquired by the Coyotes from Ottawa on June 25, 2008 and played five games for them during the 2008-09 season.
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