DUCKS (9-2-1) at PREDATORS (7-3-4)
TV: Fox SportSouth (Dish: 443/HD: 9581; Direct TV: 650/HD: 650-1) ; Comcast Nashville 26/1676; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 58/402/1676; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 37; AT&T Nashville 729/1729)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
RINNE RECORDS SECOND STRAIGHT SHUTOUT, THIRD IN HIS LAST FOUR STARTS
For the second time in his career, Pekka Rinne has recorded shutouts in back-to-back games. Going back to last Thursday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings, he’s notched three shutouts in his last four starts. The last time the Preds had shutouts in consecutive games was Dec. 11, 2010 vs. Florida (3-0) and Dec. 13, 2010 vs. the New York Islanders (5-0) with Anders Lindback being the goalie of record. Rinne’s back-to-back whitewashes came March 18, 2010 against Minnesota (5-0) and March 20, 2010 vs. Columbus (1-0 OT). The Kempele, Finland native has not allowed a goal in his last 137:41, which is 11:23 shy of his personal best (149:04 from March 16-21, 2010). His career high is also the second-longest shutout streak in team history. Rinne’s three shutouts this season lead the League, and his total of 28 since the start of the 2008-09 season is also tops among netminders. He’s also tied for fourth in save percentage (.922), is fifth in goals-against average (2.33), and is tied for sixth in wins (143) since his rookie season in 2008-09.
Going back seven starts to Jan. 31, Rinne is 6-1-0 with a 0.83 goals-against average and a .968 save percentage. Overall, Rinne ranks third in goals-against average (1.61), fourth in save percentage (.938) among goaltenders with more than three starts, in addition to being tied for fifth in wins (6) and second in minutes played (746:30).
TEAM DEFENSE THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE
Rinne’s strong numbers have enabled Nashville’s team defense to rise to the top of the NHL as well. The Predators have garnered points in 11 of their first 14 games of 2012-13 – every game in which they’ve scored a goal – thanks to a defense that has allowed just allowed 23 goals for an average of 1.64, lowest in the League. Only 14 of those goals have been scored at even strength – the second lowest total in the League – while the penalty kill has successfully extinguished 38-of-43 opportunities against (88.4 percent) in the last 10 games and 15 straight on home ice dating back to Jan. 21 vs. St. Louis. Overall, the penalty kill has risen to seventh in the League (85.2 percent).
Much of the defensive success has been accomplished by limiting the shots Nashville goaltenders face. The Preds have blocked an NHL-high 228 shots this season, led by Scott Hannan’s 32, which are tied for 10th in the League. Kevin Klein (T-17th, 29) also ranks among the League leaders, while Mike Fisher is first in the League in blocks (24) among NHL forwards.
Bourque opened the scoring for Nashville on Thursday with his first-career power-play goal and third marker of the season just 2:40 into the final frame. The goal was Bourque’s second-career game winning goal and he is now tied for fourth on the team with five points (3g-2a) despite playing two fewer games. The Predators are now 3-0-0 when Bourque scores this season.
Playing in 700th career game on Thursday night, Martin Erat regained his share of the team points lead (3g-6a-9pts) as he pocketed his franchise-record 107th multi-point game (2a). Erat’s helpers were his first points since Feb. 5, when he notched three points (1g-2a) against St. Louis. The Trebic, Czech Republic native ranks second to only David Legwand on the Predators all-time games (700), goals (162), assists (307) and points (469) lists.
Wilson has been an offensive catalyst for the Preds over the last seven games, being in on eight of the last 15 Predator goals; posting eight points (3g-5a) during that span. He has points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games after tallying the overtime winner on Tuesday against San Jose. The Greenwich, Conn., native is tied for the team lead with nine points (4g-5a) in 14 games in 2012-13.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 3, Phoenix 0 at Bridgestone Arena
Nick Spaling tallied his third goal of the season midway through the third period. Nashville is now 17-1-1 when Spaling scores and goal and 31-4-3 when he records a point... Mike Fisher’s goal with 1:44 remaining broke an 11-game goalless streak. He did not go more than nine games with scoring in 2011-12… Matt Halischuk posted his first point of the season with his assist on Spaling’s goal… Ryan Ellis has points in back-to-back games with his assist on Fisher’s goal… Shea Weber moved into sole possession of fifth place on the Predators career scoring list with an assist on Gabriel Bourque’s game winner… Nashville outshot an opponent for just the second time this season (29-19). The other occurrence came on opening night as the Preds outshot the Blue Jackets (34-28)… Eight players had multiple shots on goal… The Preds held the opposition to less than 20 shots for the first time since March 8, 2012 vs. Colorado… Nashville’s record on Valentine’s Day improved to 5‐1‐0.
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 184 home victories, fourth most in the NHL and just one shy of Vancouver for third place. The Predators are 3-1-2 at Bridgestone Arena in 2012-13 while being tied for 25th in home games played. Nashville is 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 19 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 six games of 2012-13 to bring the streak to 19.
The Predators have posted a 5-1-1 mark against the Pacific Division in 2012-13, and are 7-0-1 this season when holding opponents to less than 3 goals… Nashville is giving up 27.6 shots per game, seventh-fewest in the NHL… Nashville has scored first in 10 of its 14 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (6-0-4 record)… The Preds are third in fewest penalty minutes per game (11.7) after leading the League in the category in 2011-12 (8.4) and 2009-10 (8.7) and ranking second in 2010-11 (8.8)… The Predators haven't allowed a first-period goal in the past seven games… Nashville has needed extra time to determine a winner in seven of its 14 games this season. Two have been decided in overtime – with the Preds splitting those games. Five have gone to a shootout – Nashville has posted a 2-3 record in those contests. 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… Colin Wilson is expected to play in his 200th career game on Saturday… Jonathon Blum made his season debut on Feb. 2 at San Jose, and has played in seven consecutive games, with the team posting a 5-1-1 record while allowing only five goals… Shea Weber has led the Predators in ice time in 13 consecutive games and ranks eighth in the League in average ice time (26:31). Despite his high ice time, Weber has only been on the ice for three even-strength goals against… Paul Gaustad is second in the NHL in face-off efficiency (61.8 percent) and is eighth in average shorthanded ice time among forwards (3:14)… 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 (27 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.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. ANAHEIM
Tonight marks Anaheim’s only visit to Nashville in 2012-13, the second of three games the Ducks and Predators will play this season. In their first meeting on Jan. 26 – Nashville’s third game of a seven-game road trip – Brandon Yip put the Predators on the board at 1:52 of the first, and David Legwand pitched in a third-period marker as the Preds earned a point against the Ducks for the seventh consecutive game dating back to Jan. 5, 2011.
Nashville is 6-0-1 in its last seven games, which included Pekka Rinne’s franchise-record setting 22nd career shutout and 100th career victory on Oct. 29, 2011 at Bridgestone Arena. On Nov. 9, 2011, Craig Smith recorded his first career two-goal game and Martin Erat notched a shorthanded penalty-shot goal in a 4-2 win at Honda Center. On Dec. 10, 2011, Roman Josi scored his first career goal in a 3-2 win at Bridgestone Arena, and on March 18, 2012, Nashville scored three third-period goals to complete its first season sweep of Anaheim with a 3-1 win at the Honda Center.
Patric Hornqvist – who was injured when the Ducks and Preds played on Jan. 26 – led the Predators in scoring against the Ducks last season with five points (2g-3a) in four games, and in 16 career games against the Ducks, he has 14 points (6g-8a)… Paul Gaustad has five points (1g-4a) in eight career games against Anaheim, while Sergei Kostitsyn has five points (3g-2a) in nine career games… The Ducks are one of two teams (along with St. Louis) that Rinne has played at least 10 games against and has a goals-against average of less than 2.00. In 14 games, he has a 9-2-3 record with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage… Jonathon Blum was the first California-born and raised player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. The Rancho Santa Margarita native grew up going to Ducks games… The Predators claimed Brian McGrattan on waivers from Anaheim on Oct. 11, 2011.
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