PREDATORS (5-3-1) at WILD (3-3-3)
TV: NBC SPORTS (Comcast 50/1607)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
SMITH CAME TO PLAY
Craig Smith recorded his fifth point (1g-4a) in his last five outings with his assist on Matt Cullen’s second-period goal on Sunday night to move into the team points lead (1g-5a-6pts). The Madison, Wis., native also leads the team with a +5 rating on the year, while his 25 shots on goal are second only to Patric Hornqvist (29). With his success this season, Smith is seeing an increase in ice time to more than 30 seconds above what he averaged a season ago.
HUTTON LENDS A HAND
Starting in his first game for the Nashville Predators, goaltender Carter Hutton recorded his first NHL win in just his second career start on Sunday night in Winnipeg – he made his first career start on April 27, 2013, against St. Louis as a member of the Blackhawks. Hutton turned away 38-of-39 shots on goal on the night to earn First Star of the Game honors. With the victory, Hutton becomes just the seventh goaltender in franchise history to record a win. Every other team has at least 10 goaltenders who have recorded a win in franchise history. Sunday night’s appearance was the Thunder Bay, Ont., native’s second action of the season, after coming on in relief of Pekka Rinne in the season opener at St. Louis, turning away 21-of-22 shots in the 4-2 loss.
Rookies Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones continue to impress this season as they see their workload expand. Forsberg currently ranks 11th in average time on ice among rookie forwards (13:37), while his three points (1g-2a) are tied for 11th among his peer group.
Jones leads all first-year players in average time on ice (24:28), and ranks 22nd in the League in the category. Jones also ranks third in shots on goal (20), while he is tied for fourth in power-play goals (1) and tied for ninth in points (2g-2a-4pts) among rookies.
Nashville is one of two teams to field multiple teenagers in their lineup this season with Jones and Forsberg holding two roster spots (both 19). Buffalo is the only other team who has fielded multiple teenagers in its lineup this season (four total).
STRONG IN THE CIRCLE
The Predators won the face-off battle for the seventh consecutive game, and lead the League in team face-off win percentage this season (55.8 percent) just ahead of Minnesota (55.7 percent). Nashville is led in the face-off circle by Paul Gaustad, who has won 110-of-180 draws this season (61.1 percent) to lead the League in the category. The 6-5, 220-pound center has ranked among the League’s Top 10 in the category in each of the last four seasons. David Legwand also ranks among the League’s Top 15 in face-off efficiency after going 70 for 124 this season (56.4 percent).
• Shea Weber has posted at least 27 minutes of ice time in three straight games to rank seventh in the League in the category (25:50).
• Goaltender Pekka Rinne has turned away 93-of-100 shots against to post a 1.71 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in his last four outings (3-0-1).
• The Predators have outshot their opponent by a total of 195-165 through the last six games. The Predators are averaging 30.8 shots on goal (16th), while allowing just 29.2 shots on goal – the 11th fewest shots against per game in the League.
• Mattias Ekholm ranks fifth among all rookies in time on ice this season (20:06) after playing a career-high 22:30 against Winnipeg on Sunday night.
• After allowing six power-play goals in the first four outings of the season, Nashville has not allowed a power-play goal in five straight games. The Preds were a perfect three for three against the Jets on Sunday night, and are now tied for 14th in the League in penalty kill percentage (81.8 percent).
• Defenseman Kevin Klein leads the Predators and ranks 21st in the League with 18 blocks on the season.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 3, Winnipeg 1 at MTS Centre
• The Nashville Predators played their first-ever regular-season game in Winnipeg.
• Nashville won a game by at least two goals for the first time this season.
• Eric Nystrom opened the scoring with Nashville’s first shorthanded goal of the season just 20 second into the second period. It was Nystrom’s third career shorthanded goal and his fifth career shorthanded point (3g-2a). For the Preds, it was their first shorthanded goal since March 3, 2013 at San Jose (Gabriel Bourque).
• Patric Hornqvist notched his first game-winning goal of the season at the 12:07 mark of the second period. It was Hornqvist’s 19th career game-winning goal, which is tied for the 18th-most game-winners in the League since 2009-10.
• Matt Cullen tallied his second goal of the season at the 14:57 of the second frame.
• The birthday boy, Colin Wilson (24), tallied his fourth assist of the season on Cullen’s second-period goal. With the assist, Wilson has four points (4a) in his last five outings.
• The Predators blocked 18 shots on the night and now rank ninth in the League with 128 blocks on the year.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. MINNESOTA
The Nashville Predators visit the Twin Cities for the first time in 2013-14 on Tuesday night to face the Wild. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Predators are 7-1-2 against the Wild, and have won three of the last five on Minnesota ice (3-1-1).
Man-advantage goals were the name of the game in first meeting of the season between these two teams on Oct. 8, as four of the five goals scored came on the power-play with the additional goal coming on a penalty shot. Zach Parise got the Wild on the board just 4:05 into the contest, but the Predators rattled off three straight goals, including Filip Forsberg’s first career goal and a penalty shot goal from Eric Nystrom, to close out the opening period. Jared Spurgeon pulled the Wild within one with another power-play goal in the second, but the Preds held on for their first win of the season in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena.
The Preds and Wild last met at XCEL Energy Center on Feb. 9, 2013, as Paul Gaustad opened the scoring midway through the first period before Cal Clutterbuck knotted the score up midway through the second. The score would remain tied until Devin Setoguchi scored a power-play goal with 38.2 seconds left in overtime to lift Minnesota to a 2-1 win.
Nick Spaling has eight points (5g-3a) in 10 career games against the Wild… Pekka Rinne is 9-3-2 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage with three shutouts against Minnesota…. Nystrom played one season with the Wild in 2010-11, recording 12 points (4g-8a) in 82 games… Matt Cullen, a Virginia, Minn., native, played the past three seasons with Minnesota, posting 101 points (33g-68a) in 193 games in a Wild sweater… Matt Hendricks is a native of Blaine, Minn.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS VS. MINNESOTA
• Gabriel Bourque made his NHL debut against the Wild on Dec. 28, 2011.
• Paul Gaustad tallied his first goal as a Predator against the Wild on Feb. 9, 2013.
• Nick Spaling posted his last two-goal effort on March 10, 2011 vs. Minnesota.
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