YOUTH AT FORWARD
On Tuesday, Daniel Bang became the second Predators forward in as many games to make his NHL debut. 2010 first-round pick (18th overall) Austin Watson played his first career game on Sunday at Chicago. Taylor Beck – the veteran of the group of forwards making their debuts in the past month with 12 NHL games under his belt – appeared in his first game on March 19 at Columbus. While Nashville’s three most veteran forwards – David Legwand (887gp), Sergei Kostitsyn (346gp) and Patric Hornqvist (286gp) have combined for 1,519 career contests, the team’s other nine players up front have combined for 699 NHL games. Five of those nine have played less than 55 games. With veterans Paul Gaustad and Mike Fisher, and full-timers Brandon Yip and Gabriel Bourque out due to injury, the average age of Nashville’s forwards against St. Louis was 25.5 years old.
Pekka Rinne made his League-leading 39th appearance of the season on Tuesday against St. Louis, stopping 25-of-26 shots – he has now earned a shutout or kept the opposition to one goal 14 times this season. The Kempele, Finland native – who also paces the NHL in minutes (2,203:53) and is tied for the League lead in shutouts (5) – has started 25 consecutive games – the second-longest streak in franchise history to Tomas Vokoun’s 38 starts from Jan. 16-April 6, 2003. He has appeared in 29 straight, also second to Vokoun’s 38 appearances during the same span. In his last seven games, Rinne has posted a 1.85 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
LEGWAND LEADS PREDS
David Legwand has posted six points (3g-3a) in his last six games, and 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 18 games dating back to March 8 against Edmonton. Those totals also move him atop both the team’s goals and points lists – he is tied with Gabriel Bourque in goals (11) and Shea Weber in points (11g-12a-23pts). Seven of Legwand’s 11 goals this season have come in the third period; in 2011-12 he scored 12 of his 19 goals in the third period or overtime. Nashville’s all-time leading scorer is just one goal shy of 200 for his career.
WEBER STRONG ON THE BACK END
Shea Weber is not only tied with David Legwand for the team lead in points (8g-15a-23pts), but is tied for second among NHL defensemen in goals, and is tied for eighth at the position in points. Weber is currently tied with Jason Arnott (107) for third on the franchise’s all-time goals list, while already ranking fourth in points (286) and fifth in assists (179). The Sicamous, B.C., native also has a franchise-best +47 rating and 49 power-play goals, while ranking second in overtime markers (5).
• Weber has 22 points (8g-14a) in his last 28 games.
• The back-to-back Norris Trophy runner-up led the team in ice time for the 33rd time this season on Tuesday (24:58). He ranks second in the League in total ice time (1,065:56) and sixth in average ice time (25:59).
• Weber leads the team and is third among defensemen in shots (106).
• Weber ranks among the Top 20 at the position in both hits (91) and blocked shots (79) – he’s the only blueliner to rank among the Top 25 in points, hits and blocked shots while averaging more than 25:00 per game.
PREDS STAY DISCIPLINED; PENALTY KILL EFFECTIVE
The Predators were shorthanded just once for the third consecutive game on Tuesday against St. Louis, and finished perfect on the penalty kill for the sixth time in the last seven games (10-of-11, 90.9 percent). Nashville has been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the NHL (121), and are averaging the fourth fewest penalty minutes per game this season (9.8)
LAST TIME OUT: ST. LOUIS 1 at NASHVILLE 0
• Nashville was held without a power play for the first time this season.
• The Preds played a scoreless first period for the 13th time in 2012-13.
• In allowing only 26 shots, Nashville has conceded fewer than 30 shots on goal 30 times in the team’s 41 games. The Predators are allowing 27.5 shots per game, the sixth-best mark in the League.
• Nashville kept the opposition to less than two goals for the 15th time this season, and under three goals for the 23rd time. It is ranked fourth in home goals-against average (1.95).
• The Predators won 28 of 44 draws (63.6 percent). Each Predator who took a faceoff was at 50 percent or better for the evening, led by Nick Spaling’s 10 wins on 14 attempts (71 percent).
• Daniel Bang put one shot on goal and saw 8:30 of ice time in his NHL debut.
• Roman Josi led all skaters with seven blocked shots, tying a career high set Feb. 9, 2012 at Ottawa. No other player had more than two. Josi was ranked fourth among first-year skaters in blocked shots (98) last season.
• Victor Bartley played 21:43, a game after setting a new career high at 23:47. He’s now played at least 20 minutes in five of his last six games.
• Rich Clune played 15:19, the second-highest total of his career.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. DALLAS
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars wrap up their three-game 2012-13 set on Friday at Bridgestone Arena with the Predators having won each of the first two meetings. Most recently on March 12 in Dallas, Pekka Rinne made 32 saves to record his league-leading fifth shutout of the season, Shea Weber and Gabriel Bourque scored power-play goals, and Rich Clune scored the eighth penalty-shot goal in franchise history on the 24th all-time attempt in a 4-0 Nashville win. Their first meeting of the season was an overtime thriller on Feb. 25 which saw Nashville rally from a two-goal deficit to claim a 5-4 victory. Roman Josi not only scored the game winner at the 28-second mark of sudden death, but posted the first four-point game by a Predators defenseman since Oct. 18, 2008. The Preds have scored three power-play goals in the two games.
The March 12 shutout victory extended Nashville’s winning streak over the Stars to four games dating back to Feb. 19, 2012. That includes back-to-back wins in the Music City.
Craig Smith and David Legwand each notched a pair of assists in the March 12 victory. Smith has four points (1g-4a) in five career games against the Stars… Patric Hornqvist had a goal and an assist in the Feb. 25 game, and missed the March 12 game due to injury… Brandon Yip has the top points per game average against Dallas among active Predators with nine points (4g-5a) in 12 career games against the Stars. He scored his first career shorthanded goal as part of his second and most recent two-goal game on April 8, 2011 vs. Dallas… Colin Wilson has seven points (4g-3a) in 10 career games against the Stars including his first career two-goal game on Dec. 28, 2011 vs. Dallas… Pekka Rinne has shut out Dallas in two of his last three starts against the Stars – March 12 and in the 2011-12 regular-season home finale on April 5 (28 saves)… Chris Mason has a career record of 5-1-1 against Dallas with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. DALLAS
Mike Fisher – Took his first of two career penalty shots on Dec. 5, 2001 at Dallas (Marty Turco): Goal… Appeared in his 800th career NHL game on March 12, 2013 at Dallas.
Patric Hornqvist – A career high/franchise record 14 shots on goal on Dec. 28, 2010 vs. Dallas and scored his first career goal on Oct. 15, 2008 at Dallas (Marty Turco).
Roman Josi – Career-high four points (2g-2a) on Feb. 25, 2013 vs. Dallas.
David Legwand – Most recent of two career hat tricks on Oct. 6, 2007 vs. Dallas.
Shea Weber – Appeared in his 500th career NHL game on Feb. 25, 2013 vs. Dallas.
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