PREDATORS (8-8-2) AT PENGUINS (11-7-0)
TV: Fox SportSouth (Dish: 452/HD: 9574; Direct TV: 650/HD: 650-1) ; Comcast Nashville 26/1676; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 58/402/1676; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 37; AT&T Nashville 729/1729)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
• Shea Weber has led Nashville in ice time in 11 of the last 12 games to rank fifth in the League in the category (26:32). Weber’s four goals, all of which have come in the first period, on the season are tied for third among League defensemen. The Preds are 4-0-0 when he finds the back of the net.
• Seth Jones leads all first-year players in average time on ice (24:39), and ranks among the League’s Top 20 in the category. His average time on ice is nearly four minutes more than the next closest rookie (Jacob Trouba). The Frisco, Texas native is tied for 10th in points among first-year players (2g-5a-7pts), while ranking second in power-play points (1g-3a), seventh in power-play goals (1) and 17th in shots on goal (26) among rookies.
• David Legwand has eight points (3g-5a) in his last six outings, and has a team-best 15 points (4g-11a) in 17 games this year. Eleven (4g-7a) of Legwand’s 15 points this season have come away from the Music City.
• Patric Hornqvist has six points (2g-4a) in his last eight games to lead the team in goals and move into second in team scoring (5g-6a-11pts).
• Kevin Klein leads the team and ranks fourth in the League with 49 blocked shots.
• With 53 hits on the year, Eric Nystrom is tied for 15th in the League in the category.
• When the Preds score first they hold onto the lead, going 7-0-2 in those contests this season.
• The Predators have had seven rookies appear in the lineup this season. They had eight rookies appear last season, and 11 during the 2011-12 campaign. Nashville is also one of two teams in the NHL to field multiple teenagers in its lineup (Filip Forsberg, 19 and Seth Jones, 19), only Buffalo has had more teenagers on its roster (four).
• Six of Nashville’s eight wins this season have come by one goal – it is 6-0-2 in one-goal games.
• Nashville is 7-0-1 when scoring three or more goals this season.
• The Preds are 56-35-16 against the Eastern Conference since 2005-06, 32-18-9 vs. the East since 2009-10, and 3-3-0 in inter-conference matchups this season.
• Nashville’s game in Pittsburgh is its 12th road game of the season. Only Anaheim, Edmonton and Vancouver have played more games away from their home rink.
STRONG IN THE CIRCLE
The Predators rank third in the League in team face-off win percentage this season (54.7 percent). Nashville has been better than 50 percent in the face-off circle in 15 of its 17 games this season.
Nashville is led in the face-off circle by Paul Gaustad, who has won 208-of-342 face-offs this season (60.8 percent) to lead the League in the category among players who have taken at least 175 draws. 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 also ranks among the League’s top face-off men (eighth, 57.4 percent), winning 128-of-223 draws on the season.
Tonight, the Predators open the third of 14 sets of back-to-backs in 2013-14 against the Penguins, before returning home to take on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night. Nashville’s 14 sets of two-games-in-two-nights are five more than a season ago, the Preds are 1-1-0 in the opening game and 1-1-0 on the tail end of back-to-back tilts this season. The Preds will play one game at home and one on the road (or vice versa) seven times in 2013-14, they’ll play two road games in two days six times and on one occasion they will hit the Bridgestone Arena ice on back-to-back days.
A FRANCHISE RECORD CMA ROAD TRIP
Since 2006, it has been a staple of the Nashville Predators schedule – the annual extended road trip in early November to accommodate the Country Music Association Awards – being held this year on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The Nashville Predators close out the franchise record tying seven-game road swing in Pittsburgh; the Predators also played seven straight on the road earlier this year from Jan.22-Feb. 5, 2013, and first played seven straight on the road from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2002. The trip lasted 17 days, the longest stretch away from the Music City in franchise history, and saw the team go to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Colorado, Winnipeg, New Jersey, New York and Pittsburgh. Nashville’s first game at Bridgestone Arena since Oct. 26 will be tomorrow night against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 1, New York Islanders 3 at Nassau Coliseum
• Marek Mazanec made his first NHL start, turning away 30-of-33 shots in the effort. Nashville has now used four goalies in a single season for the first time since 2005-06. The franchise high is five goaltenders used during the 2002-03 campaign.
• Patric Hornqvist goal at 14:30 of the third period broke a scoreless streak of 174:48 for Nashville – the second-longest streak in franchise history. Hornqvist also posted a game-high six shots on goal.
• David Legwand and Shea Weber tallied the assists on Hornqvist’s goal. It was Legwand’s first point since Nov. 6 vs. Colorado and Weber’s first since his power-play goal against Los Angeles on Nov. 2.
• Nashville won the face-off battle (63-37), led by Paul Gaustad, who won 81 percent (13-of-16) of his face-offs.
• Seth Jones blocked a game-high six shots.
STORYLINES VS. PITTSBURGH
The Predators visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday for the first of two meetings (March 4, 2014) between the clubs this season. Nashville and Pittsburgh have split the last four meetings, with Nashville garnering five of a possible eight points in those contests (2-1-1).
This is Nashville’s first trip to the Steel City since March 22, 2012, when the Penguins opened the game with four straight goals before Nashville responded with a goal of its own with 12:01 remaining in the second. Evgeni Malkin would open the four-goal gap again just two minutes into the final frame to complete the 5-1 win for Pittsburgh.
In their last meeting in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2010, extra time was need to decide a winner for the second straight game. David Legwand opened the scoring just 53 seconds into the game, but the teams traded goals in the second to tie the game at two after 40 minutes. Patric Hornqvist restored the Preds lead five minutes into the third before Pittsburgh tied the game once again to force overtime. In the extra frame, Kris Letang beat Pekka Rinne to take home the 4-3 win.
David Legwand has amassed 10 points (7g-3a) in 12 career contests vs. the Penguins… Shea Weber has four points (1g-3a) in five games vs. the Pens... Matt Cullen has posted 25 points (9g-16a) in 35 games against Pittsburgh.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS VS. PITTSBURGH
• Matt Cullen posted a career-high four assists on Dec. 15, 2002 vs. Pittsburgh
• Paul Gaustad recorded his first NHL goal on Oct. 10, 2005 vs. Marc-Andre Fleury.
• Viktor Stalberg posted a career-high nine shots on goal on Dec. 20, 2011 at Pittsburgh
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