WILD (24-18-5) at PREDATORS (19-20-7)
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.
STORYLINES VS. MINNESOTA
The Minnesota Wild make their final appearance in the Music City this season on Sunday night; Nashville will travel to the Twin Cities on Feb. 6 and April 13. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Predators are 8-2-2 against the Wild, and have won six of the last seven on home ice against Minnesota since March 18, 2010.
The Preds opened their 2013-14 home slate against the Wild on Oct. 8, when special teams goals were the name of the game. After Zach Parise gave the Wild the early lead on a power-play goal, rookie forward Filip Forsberg and Colin Wilson responded with power-play goals of their own within a minute-and-a-half. Nashville would jump out to a three-goal lead at the 11:14 mark of the first, when Eric Nystrom converted his first career penalty shot, and first goal as a Predator. Jared Spurgeon narrowed Nashville’s lead to one with a power-play goal of his own in the second, but the Wild could not overcome the deficit, as the Predators won, 3-2.
Nick Spaling has eight points (5g-3a) in 11 career games against the Wild, including both two-goal games of his career during the 2010-11 season… Gabriel Bourque made his NHL debut against the Wild on Dec. 28, 2011… Paul Gaustad scored his first goal as a Predator on Feb. 9, 2013 at Minnesota… Shea Weber has 15 points (5g-10a) in 28 career games 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., and Nashville has four other prospects from the state: Zach Budish (Edina, Milwaukee (AHL)), Zach Stepan (Faribault, Minnesota State (WCHA)), Mark Van Guilder (Roseville, Milwaukee (AHL)) and Teemu Kivihalme (Cloquet, Fargo (USHL)).
Shea Weber continues to be a dominant force for Nashville, posting seven points (1g-6a) in his last six outings and 17 points (3g-14a) in his last 17 games.
• Weber has taken over Nashville’s points lead (10g-19a-29pts) and moved into the League’s Top 10 in defensive scoring.
• Nashville’s captain is one of just three defensemen to lead their team in scoring (Erik Karlsson (OTT) and P.K. Subban (MTL)).
• Weber is tied with Karlsson and Torey Krug (BOS) for the League’s defensive goal-scoring lead (10). Half of Weber’s 10 goals have come in the first period. The Preds are 7-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• The Sicamous, B.C., native’s team-leading 15 power-play points (7g-8a) are good for fifth among League defensemen (tie), while his seven power-play goals pace all blueliners.
• Weber is fourth in the League in average time on ice this season (26:42) and has played past the half-hour mark on five occasions.
• Weber leads the team and ranks fifth in the League in blocked shots (106), in addition to leading the team in hits (97).
• Weber was named to his second consecutive Canadian Olympic team on Tuesday. During the 2010 Olympics, he was named to the tournament’s all-star team after tying for second among blueliners in points (2g-4a) and helping Canada claim gold.
With his goal on Saturday night against his former team, Mike Fisher has now posted 11 points (5g-6a) in his last eight games. Fisher ranks among the League’s Top Five players in point production during that span (Dec. 28, 2013-Jan. 11, 2014) behind John Tavares (NYI), Jeff Skinner (CAR) and Sidney Crosby (PIT). The Peterborough, Ont., native ranks fourth in team scoring (12g-12a-24pts), while he leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:00) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forward (David Legwand, 16:44). Fisher also leads club forwards in blocked shots (38) and ranks third in hits (79).
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Paul Gaustad has won 449-of-758 face-offs (59.2 percent), to rank second in the League in the category (minimum 700 draws).
• Patric Hornqvist, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, has seven points (2g-5a) in his last nine outings to tie Mike Fisher for fourth on the team in scoring (9g-15a-24pts), while he leads the team and ranks 24th in the League with 134 shots on goal. The Sollentuna, Sweden native is tied for seventh on the club’s all-time goal-scoring list (93) and all-time power-play goals list (32).
• Seth Jones has seven points (1g-6a) in his last 11 games to lead all rookie defensemen in points in that span (Dec. 23, 2013-Jan. 11, 2014). Jones is tied for 13th among first-year players in points (4g-13a-17pts). The Plano, Texas native ranks second in time on ice (21:02) and games played (46), and ranks among the League’s Top 10 rookies in blocked shots (64), power-play points (6), power-play goals (2) and even-strength assists.
• Roman Josi has nine points (4g-5a) in his last 17 games. The Bern, Switzerland native has led the team in ice time in seven of the last 16 games to rank second on the team and seventh among League defensemen in the category (25:41). Josi was recently named to his first Swiss Olympic Team after missing the 2010 Games with an injury.
• Craig Smith has racked up 11 points (7g-4a) in his last 12 games, moving him into first in goals and third in team scoring (13g-14a-27pts). Eighteen (7g-11a) of Smith’s 27 points this season have come on home ice, and he’s posted a team-high +11 rating at Bridgestone Arena.
• Colin Wilson has seven points (2g-5a) in his last nine games as he continues to climb the Preds point-scoring leaderboard (7g-15a-22pts). Six (2g-4a) of Wilson’s 22 points have come on game-winning goals this season.
The Preds finish up the seventh of 14 sets of back-to-backs in 2013-14 on Sunday night against Minnesota after falling in a shootout on Saturday against Ottawa. Nashville’s 14 sets of two-games-in-two-nights are five more than a season ago; the Preds are 2-3-2 in the opening game and 3-3-0 on the back 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.
TEAM QUICK HITS
• Nashville is 4-2-0 in intra-divisional home games.
• Nine of Nashville’s 19 wins this season have come by one goal – the team is 9-2-7 in one-goal games (.500).
• The Predators are 16-2-4 when they score first (.727), and are 14-1-1 when leading after the first period (.875).
• Eleven of Nashville’s last 38 goals have come on the man advantage, including power-play tallies in nine of the team’s last 15 games. The Preds power play remains one of the League’s most potent (eighth, 20 percent), while Nashville’s home power play ranks among the League’s Top 10 (ninth, 22.2 percent). The Preds are 15-4-2 when they score a power-play goal.
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded goals – a span of 61 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville leads the League in team face-off win percentage this season (54.1 percent). The Preds have been better than 50 percent in the face-off circle in 37 of their 46 games.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 1, Ottawa 2 (SO) at Bridgestone Arena
• With the shootout loss, Nashville has earned points in six of its last eight games (3-2-3).
• Viktor Stalberg was award his third career penalty shot in the first period (no goal). It was the second by a Predator this season – the first came on Oct. 8 against the Wild, as Eric Nystrom converted his attempt. As a franchise, Nashville has nine goals on 27 attempts.
• Nashville outshot Ottawa 33-21 in the game, and 17-5 in the third period and OT. Five different skaters shared the shots-on-goal lead for Nashville (four), and each of Nashville’s 18 skaters attempted a shot on goal (includes attempts blocked and misses).
• Defenseman Kevin Klein played in his 400th NHL regular-season game.
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
January 31, 2012 – Season of comebacks defined in Minnesota in first game after the All-Star Break
In a season where Nashville rallied from two- or three-goal deficits to claim victory an NHL-high seven times, arguably the most dramatic came on Jan. 31, 2012, when the Preds scored four goals in the final 10:38 of regulation to top the Minnesota Wild, 5-4, at Xcel Energy Center. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but pushed Nashville’s record to 13-2-0 in its previous 15 games.
"They don't ask you how, but sometimes how many," Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "We weren't as good as we needed to be, but we found a way."
Playing their first game after the All-Star Break, Nashville fell in a 3-0 hole in the first 32 minutes of regulation, and trailed 4-1 by the 16-second mark of the third period. Despite facing a daunting three goal lead, the Predators showed resilience and began to storm back in the final 11 minutes of the contest. Brandon Yip provided a spark when he hacked in a loose puck at the 9:22 mark of the third period. Patric Hornqvist showed likewise grit at 16:39 mark when he pounded the puck into the net in comparable fashion.
Mike Fisher then took over, scoring 21 seconds after Hornqvist to tie the game, then with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, flipping a seemingly harmless shot on net from behind the right circle that slipped underneath goaltender Josh Harding’s pads and sent a groan throughout the Xcel Energy Center and winces up and down the Wild bench.
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