BLUES (5-1-1) vs. PREDATORS (6-4-1)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
SMITH STAYS HOT
Craig Smith registered the game-winning goal with 17 seconds remaining in overtime on Thursday night against Winnipeg. The goal is just the latest in an impressive offensive streak for the third-year forward. His game winner on Thursday was just the second of his career and his first point to come in overtime. Smith is tied for the team lead in points (2g-5a), and has posted six points (2g-4a) in his last seven outings. The Madison, Wis., native also leads the team with a +4 rating and ranks second with 34 shots on goal this season (Hornqvist, 36). With his success this season, Smith is seeing an increase in ice time to more than 40 seconds above what he averaged a season ago.
STRONG IN THE CIRCLE
The Predators won the face-off battle for the ninth consecutive game on Thursday night versus Winnipeg, and lead the League in team face-off win percentage this season (56.7 percent). Nashville is led in the face-off circle by Paul Gaustad, who has won 128-of-204 draws this season (62.7 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. Matt Cullen and David Legwand also rank among the League’s Top 20 in face-off efficiency this season. After going 15 for 16 on Thursday night (94 percent), Cullen has jumped to seventh in the category (58.3 percent), while Legwand has won 66-of-149 draws this season to rank 17th (55.7 percent).
LEGWAND POSTS A PAIR
With his second multi-point game of the season on Thursday night, David Legwand has now posted 110 multiple point games in his career, tying him for the franchise lead (Martin Erat). His helper on Craig Smith’s overtime game winner was also his franchise-record 18th overtime point (9g-9a). The Grosse Pointe, Mich., native has posted four points (4a) in his last four games to move into a tie with Smith for the team points lead this season (1g-6a).
PESKY PENALTY KILL
After allowing six power-play goals in their first four games, the Predators have killed off 22 straight man-disadvantages – tying the franchise’s second-longest streak without allowing a power-play goal (7; five times, last Feb. 2-27, 2012) – to move into eighth in the category (84.6 percent). Nashville was a perfect four for four on Thursday night against Winnipeg, and last allowed a power-play goal on Oct. 10 vs. Toronto.
• Shea Weber posted a season-high 31:43 of ice time on Thursday against Winnipeg. It was the first time Nashville’s captain has posted more than 31 minutes since April 1, 2013, when he recorded 31:05 at Chicago. The Sicamous, B.C., native has led Nashville in ice time in five straight games to rank seventh in the NHL (26:19).
• The Preds have outshot their opponent by a total of 244-230 through the last eight games. They ranked 12th in the NHL in avg. shots against (29.8).
• Mattias Ekholm ranks third among all rookies in average time on ice this season (20:17).
• Kevin Klein ranks second in the League with 29 blocked shots on the year.
Rookies Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones continue to impress this season as they see their workload expand. Forsberg currently ranks among the League’s Top 15 rookie forwards in average time on ice (13:37), while his four points (1g-3a) are tied for ninth among his peer group. All of Forsberg’s points this season have come on the man-advantage. Jones leads all first-year players in average time on ice (24:43), and ranks 17th in the League in the category. Jones also ranks sixth in shots on goal (21) and power-play goals (1), while he is tied for seventh in points (2g-3a-5pts) 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).
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Nashville has posted a 4-1-1 record at home thus far in 2013-14. The Predators have been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 196 home victories, fourth most in the NHL in that span and just one behind Vancouver for third. Nashville is the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive full seasons. The Preds have also sold out a 35 of their last 43 home games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. Los Angeles.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 3, Winnipeg 2 (OT) at Bridgestone Arena
• Nashville played its second OT game of the season, and now stands at 1-1 in post-regulation play. The Predators last won an OT game on home ice on Feb. 25, 2013 (vs. DAL).
• The Predators scored a GTG or GWG in the final minute of regulation/overtime for the first time since Jan. 31, 2012 at MIN (Fisher, GWG) and for the first time on home ice since Dec. 22, 2011 vs. CBJ (Erat, GWG).
• Carter Hutton picked up his second career win (both against WPG). He has now stopped 93-of-97 shots this season, good for a .959 SV% and 1.37 GAA.
• Shea Weber’s first-period PPG moved him atop the goal-scoring leaderboard among NHL D-men (3g). Weber’s PPG was also the 51st of his career – a franchise best.
• Patric Hornqvist tied for the lead among skaters with six shots, netting his team-high fourth goal of the season.
• Nashville scored first for the sixth time this season (5-0-1 record).
• The Preds are undefeated when scoring a PPG (five wins).
• The Preds have posted a 5-0-0 record when scoring more than two goals this season.
STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Preds and Blues face-off on Bridgestone Arena ice on Saturday night for the first time in 2013-14. These two teams will meet three times in the Music City, but won’t meet up again in Nashville until March 6, 2014. The Preds have posted a 22-12-9 mark all-time against the Blues on home ice, but have lost three straight going back to Feb. 23, 2012 (1-0-2). Two of Nashville’s home losses during that span came via the shootout, a common theme in the series – the teams have needed the post-overtime tiebreaker to determine a winner 13 times, with Nashville posting an 8-5 record.
In the most recent meeting at the Scottrade Center on Oct. 8, St. Louis scored three times in the first 10 minutes as it chased goalie Pekka Rinne. Nashville was able to cut the Blues' three-goal lead to 3-2 after Mike Fisher and David Legwand both scored, but the early lead was too much as the Preds fell 4-2.
These two teams last meet in Nashville on April 9, 2013, as Alexander Steen scored the lone goal and Brian Elliott recorded the 1-0 shutout for the Blues.
Patric Hornqvist has 14 points (5g-9a) in 21 career games against STL… David Legwand has played 71 career games against STL – more than any Predator against any opponent all-time – posting 34 points (12g-22a)…. Nashville’s Director of Player Development Scott Nichol played the final two seasons of his career with STL, posting nine points (4g-5a) in 110 games for the Blues.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. ST. LOUIS
• Patric Hornqvist – First career NHL game on Oct. 10, 2008 at STL.
• Carter Hutton – Made his NHL debut against STL on April 27, 2013.
• David Legwand – Most recent of two career four-point games (2g-2a) on Oct. 8, 2011 at STL.
• Shea Weber – First career NHL goal on April 6, 2006 at STL (Reinhard Divis).
15th ANNIVERSARY MOMENTS
October 25, 2007 – Dan Ellis records a shutout in his first start for the Predators
After going more than three years between NHL starts, Dan Ellis was spectacular in goal against the Atlanta Thrashers in his first start for the Predators on Oct. 25, 2007 at Bridgestone Arena. Ellis’ last start came in a Dallas Stars uniform on February 18, 2004 in a win over the Los Angeles Kings. Three years later, in just his fourth NHL appearance since then, Ellis stopped all 20 shots he faced and led the Predators to a 3-0 win. Ellis went on to win his first six decisions as a Predator and emerged as the team's go-to goalie as the club made its fourth consecutive playoff appearance in 2008.
The win not only snapped a six-game losing skid, but sent the Predators on a streak which saw them go 8-1-1 in their next 10 games.
October 25, 2005: Preds win eighth straight to open 05-06 season
After the NHL lockout year of 2004-05, Nashville returned to the ice in the fall of 2005 with a vengeance. The Preds won their first eight games of the season, claimed points in nine straight and posted an overall record of 8-1-1 in October, 2005. Not only was the eight-game run a franchise record for the longest winning streak, at the time it tied the Predators for the third-best start in NHL history, behind only the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.
The stretch included three shootout victories against Western Conference foes Anaheim, Phoenix and St. Louis, and three additional one-goal wins against San Jose (twice) and Colorado. The Predators were most clutch during crunch time, outscoring their opponent 11-4 in the third period.
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