PREDATORS (11-9-6) AT CANUCKS (12-7-6)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; 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 POSTS FIFTH SHUTOUT
On Tuesday night, Pekka Rinne turned aside all 32 shots he faced to post his League-leading fifth shutout of the season. It was his first road shutout since Jan.19, 2012, when he whitewashed Columbus (3-0). Rinne has posted the most shutouts (30) in the League since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, and has recorded at least four shutouts in each of those seasons. The Kempele, Finland native is also riding an even-strength shutout streak of 184:56 after allowing just one power-play goal against Minnesota last Saturday. Since Jan. 31, Rinne has been one of the League’s top netminders – posting a 1.81 goals-against average and .931 save percentage while appearing in 19 of Nashville’s 20 games during that span. In addition to leading the League in shutouts, the Finnish netminder ranks first in minutes played (1,410:03), fifth in goals-against average (2.00), tied for sixth in save percentage (.924) and tied for 10th in wins (10) among all starting goaltenders.
THE CAPTAIN STAYS HOT
Shea Weber continues his point-per-game pace after posting his first power-play goal of the season on Tuesday in Dallas. Nashville’s captain has notched 13 points (4g-9a) in his last 13 outings, including six points (1g-5a) in his last four. With Tuesday’s goal, Weber is now just four goals shy of tying Jason Arnott for third on the Preds all-time goals lists (107). The 6-4, 234-pound defenseman also dished out two hits, and now ranks among the League’s Top 15 defensemen in the category (59). He also tied a career-high with 15 penalty minutes against the Stars. Weber has led the Preds in ice time in 21-of-26 games this season and ranks 10th in the League in average ice time (25:38). Despite his high ice time, Weber has only been on the ice for 11 even-strength goals against this season.
CLUNE FINDS HIS NICHE
Rich Clune scored the eighth penalty-shot goal in franchise history on the 24th all-time attempt on Tuesday at Dallas. It was the first since Martin Erat on Nov. 9, 2011 at Anaheim, and gave the Toronto native four points (3g-1a) in his last seven games, besting his total from his first 32 career NHL contests (1g-2a). Clune is also tied for seventh in the NHL in fighting majors (6), and ranks among the NHL’s Top 20 in hits (70). Claimed on waivers on Jan. 15 from Los Angeles, he has had only two games in his career with a minus rating.
POWER PLAY COMES ALIVE
Nashville went two-for-four on the power play on Tuesday at Dallas, meaning five of team’s 11 goals over the past three games have come with the man advantage. Prior to the current three-game stretch, the Preds had five power-play goals in their previous 14 games from Feb. 7-March 4. The recent hot stretch has elevated the power play into the top half of the NHL.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 4, Dallas 0
- The Predators improved to 10-1-4 when scoring more than one goal and 5-0-0 in Tuesday games.
- Nick Spaling opened the scoring for Nashville with his fourth goal of the season. The Predators improved to 18-1-1 all time when he scores.
- Gabriel Bourque tied for the team lead with his seventh goal of the season, equaling his 43-game goals total from 2011-12.
- David Legwand and Craig Smith both notched their first multi-point performances of the season with a pair of assists each. The helpers gave Legwand points (2g-2a) in three straight games, while Smith has three points (3a) in his last three outings and seven points (3g-4a) in his last 11 outings after recording one point/assist in his first 15 games of 2012-13.
- The Predators and Stars combined for a season-high 80 penalty minutes
- Ryan Ellis collected his first-career fighting major midway through the third period.
- Mike Fisher appeared in his 800th career NHL game.
- Nashville allowed two goals or fewer for the 15th time this season. The team now ranks third in the League in goals-against average (2.15).
- The Preds have given up 15 third-period goals, tied for the fewest in the League.
- Nashville is third in the League in fewest penalty minutes per game this season (10.9). The Preds led the League in the category in 2011-12 (8.4) and 2009-10 (8.7), and ranked second in 2010-11 (8.8).
- Nashville has been shorthanded 88 times this season – tied for sixth fewest in the NHL.
- The Predators have gone to overtime or a shootout in an NHL-high 11 of their first 26 games in 2012-13, and hold a 5-6 record in contests that go beyond 60 minutes. The Preds are 3-1 in the five-minute, four-on-four session, and 2-5 in shootouts. 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 11th time in 2011-12 until game No. 54 on Feb. 7, 2012 vs. Vancouver.
- Roman Josi has led the team in ice time in the four games that Weber has not, and his 2012-13 average ice time is up by nearly four minutes from his rookie season (from 18:23 to 22:20).
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. VANCOUVER
The Nashville Predators make their lone trip of the 2012-13 season to Vancouver on Thursday night, a place they’ve posted a 1-1-0 record in each of the last seven seasons going back to 2005-06. In their last trip to the Pacific Northwest on Dec. 1, 2011, 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. In their first matchup of 2012-13 on Feb. 22, 2013, Pekka Rinne stopped 23-of-24 shots, but the Canucks prevailed, 1-0.
Fisher led all scorers against Vancouver last season with six points (4g-2a) in three games. In 20 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 36 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 game (3g-1a) on Dec. 8, 2009.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. VANCOUVER
Martin Erat – Most recent of two career hat tricks, and third career four-point game (3g-1a) on Dec. 8, 2009 vs. Vancouver.
Mike Fisher – Most recent of 13 career three-point performances on Feb. 21, 2012 vs. Vancouver (1g-2a) and scored his first goal as a Predator on Feb. 17, 2011 vs. Vancouver (Roberto Luongo).
Craig Smith – Career high three assists on Dec. 1, 2011 at Vancouver.
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