CANUCKS (8-3-4) AT PREDATORS (8-4-5)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 450/HD: 9573; 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
WILSON EXTENDS POINTS LEAD
Colin Wilson has been better than a point-per-game player for the Preds as of late, posting 13 points (4g-9a) in the month of February (10gp). That total is good for fifth among all NHLers this month – only Sidney Crosby, Jakub Voracek, Chris Kunitz and Henrik Zetterberg have more. Wilson is riding a career-long five-game point streak (2g-5a) after posting his second consecutive and fourth multi-point effort in his last nine games against Detroit on Tuesday (2a). The Greenwich, Conn., native continues to lead the Preds in points this season (5g-9a-14pts), after being in on 13 of the last 26 Predator goals.
WEBER WINS IT
Shea Weber drove home his first game-winner of the season just 44 seconds into overtime as the Preds downed the Wings on Tuesday night. Nashville’s captain has goals in three straight games for the first time in his career and six points (3g-3a) in his last four games after posting only one assist through the first 13 games of the season. In addition to his game-winning goal, the Sicamous, B.C., native posted his second consecutive multi-point effort with an assist on Craig Smith’s first-period power-play goal. Weber is now tied for third in team scoring this season (3g-4a) and ranks fourth on Nashville’s all-time goals and points list (102g-168a-270pts). He leads the team in ice time once again this season after averaging 26:17 per game (seventh in the NHL).
BARRY TROTZ: LONGEST TENURED COACH IN THE NHL
Having been at the helm since the franchise’s first game on Oct. 10, 1998, Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz is the longest tenured head coach in the National Hockey League (1,083 games) and has the second longest active tenure in all four major sports behind only Greg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. A Jack Adams Award finalist in both 2010 and 2011, Trotz is 15th on the all-time coaching wins list, and his 511 wins with the Preds is fourth on the wins with a single team list, just five shy of Billy Reay’s total with Chicago for third. The Dauphin, Man., native is the only coach to lead his team to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons.
RINNE KEEPS THE PREDATORS WINNING
Pekka Rinne picked up his seventh win of the season in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win against Detroit, stopping 26-of-29 shots. In his last 10 appearances going back to Jan. 31, Rinne’s numbers are the best in the League – he is 7-1-1 with a 1.13 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage. He also has three shutouts – tied for first in the League – in his last six starts: a 32-save effort in a 3-0 win on Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles, a 25-save whitewash in a 1-0 overtime win on Feb. 12 vs. San Jose, and a 19-save performance in a 3-0 win on Feb. 14 against Phoenix. The Kempele, Finland native has 28 since the start of the 2008-09 season, tops among netminders, while his goals-against average (2.31) and save percentage (.922) rank among the Top Five since then. Overall in 2012-13, Rinne ranks third in goals-against average (1.67) and is tied for second in save percentage (.935) among starting goaltenders, in addition to his win total being tied for fifth and his 896:15 leading all goalies.
PENALTY KILL COMING ON STRONG
The Nashville penalty kill has been a strongpoint for the club of late – it has been perfect in five of the last six games, successfully extinguishing 17-of-18 opportunities against (94.4 percent) in that span to rise to sixth in the NHL (85.0 percent). The PK has been even better on home ice, going perfect in six consecutive games dating back to Jan. 31 vs. Los Angeles, killing off 19 straight on Bridgestone Arena ice. The home penalty kill is ranked sixth at 91.7 percent.
EXTRA TIME BECOMING THE NORM
The Predators have gone go overtime or a shootout in an NHL-high nine of their first 17 games in 2012-13, with Tuesday’s sudden-death goal by Shea Weber improving the club’s record to 4-5 in those nine games. Three of the nine have been decided with an overtime goal (2-1 record), while six have gone to a shootout (2-4 record). Last season, Nashville needed extra time on 16 occasions in 82 games, tied for the third fewest in the NHL. The Preds didn’t go beyond 60 minutes for the ninth time in 2011-12 until game No. 38 on Dec. 30 at St. Louis.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 4, Detroit 3 (OT) at Bridgestone Arena
Craig Smith opened the scoring for Nashville his first goal of the season on the power play at 5:01 of the first period. It was his first marker since April 7, 2012 at Colorado… The Preds have now scored first 11 times in 2012‐13, earning a point in each of those games (6‐0‐5)… Gabriel Bourque posted his second goal in four games. Nashville is now 4-0-0 when he scores this season… Scott Hannan recorded his first point as a Predator with his assist on Bourque’s goal… Mike Fisher has four points (2g-2a) in his last four games after notching the secondary assist on Bourque’s goal… Roman Josi fired home his first goal of the year at the 12:54 mark of the final frame. Josi lead all Predators in ice time for the second consecutive game (23:55), marking only the third time in 17 games that Shea Weber has not lead the team… Sergei Kostitsyn extended his points streak to three games (1g‐3a) with his assist on Weber’s OT winner… The Preds power-play unit was successful for the third time in four games (1-6). Eight different skaters have now scored on the power play for Nashville… Nashville improved to 3‐0‐1 when leading after two periods, and 6‐3‐3 when being outshot (29-26).
The Predators start their fourth of nine sets of back-to-backs in 2012-13 tonight; they are 0-1-2 on the front end and 2-1-0 on the back end of two-games-in-two-nights scenarios to this point. Six times the Preds will play one game at home and one on the road (or vice versa), twice they’ll hit Bridgestone Arena ice on back-to-back days, and on one occasion will play two road games in two nights. A season ago, Nashville was 8-3-0 on the front-end of back-to-backs, and 5-6-0 on the back end.
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 185 home victories, tied with Vancouver for the third most in the League during that span. The Predators are 4-1-3 at Bridgestone Arena in 2012-13. 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 21 games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. L.A. Last season, the Predators sold out a franchise 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 eight games of 2012-13 to bring the streak to 21.
Nashville ranks third in the league in goals-against average (2.00) and fourth in even-strength goals allowed (23)… The Predators have garnered points in 13 of their first 17 games of 2012-13 – all but one in which they’ve scored a goal… The Predators are second in the League in blocked shots, and have three defenseman ranked among the League’s Top 25 in the category – Scott Hannan (35), Shea Weber (34) and Kevin Klein (32). Mike Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots with 25… Nashville has scored first in 12 of its 17 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (7-0-5 record)… The Preds are averaging the second fewest penalty minutes per game (10.4) 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).
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. VANCOUVER
The Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks hook up for their first of three 2012-13 matchups tonight at Bridgestone Arena. A season ago, the Predators posted their best point total against the Canucks in five seasons, going 2-1-1 (5pts). Their first of the two wins came on Dec. 1, 2011, when both Colin Wilson (1g-2a) and Craig Smith (3a) had three-point performances and Mike Fisher scored his second goal with just 1:16 remaining as the Predators rallied from a 5-3 deficit to win 6-5 at Rogers Arena. The second win came in the most recent clash on Feb. 21, 2012 by a 3-1 score with Sergei Kostitsyn scoring the game-winning goal while shorthanded and Pekka Rinne stopping 32-of-33 shots at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds collected a point in the other game at Nashville, falling 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 7. Four of Nashville’s 13 goals in last season’s slate came while on the power play – the unit went 4 for 14 (28.6 percent).
Fisher led all scorers against Vancouver last season with six points (4g-2a) in three games. In 19 career games against the Canucks, he has 10 goals and 14 points… Wilson (2g-3a in 4gp), Martin Erat (5a in 3gp) and David Legwand (2g-2a in 4gp) all produced at a point-per-game pace or greater against Vancouver in 2011-12. In 35 career games against the Canucks, Erat has 29 points (8g-21a), including his most recent of two career hat tricks, and third career four-point games (3g-1a) on Dec. 8, 2009.
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