PREDATORS (25-23-9) at WILD (30-21-7)
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.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 3, St. Louis 4 (SO) at Scottrade Center
• The Preds went to the shootout for the eighth time this season (1-7).
• With Ryan Ellis’ shootout goal, he and Roman Josi have now combined for four of Nashville’s six shootout markers. David Legwand and Matt Cullen are the only other Preds with goals in the tiebreaker. Ellis is one of three defensemen (Josi and Kevin Shattenkirk (STL)) this season, and just the third blueliner in franchise history to post multiple shootout goals with the club.
• Paul Gaustad opened the scoring for the Preds with his eighth goal of the year. That is his highest goals total since tying his career-high 12 goals in 2010-11 – his third consecutive season with 12 goals.
• Patric Hornqvist posted an assist on the night, giving him assists in three straight games. He also led all skaters with seven shots on goal, tying his and the team’s season high.
• Simon Moser made his NHL debut after being recalled earlier Saturday morning. The Bern, Switzerland native recorded 10:21 of ice time and two hits.
• Nashville won the face-off battle (60-40), with Fisher (16-of-20, 80 percent) leading the way.
• It was Nashville’s fourth straight game with six penalty minutes or fewer. It now ranks sixth in the League in penalty minutes per game (9.8). The Preds have also posted the League’s seventh-fewest penalty minutes this season (560).
NORRIS CALIBER CAPTAIN
Shea Weber has been the League’s top point-producing defenseman with 25 points (8g-17a) in his last 26 games.
• With his recent hot streak, Nashville’s captain now ranks among the League’s Top Five defensemen in scoring (15g-23a-38pts).
• Weber leads all League defensemen in goals (15), and his nine power-play goals pace all blueliners and rank among the League’s Top Five skaters.
• Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Weber ranks first among NHL defensemen in goals (98), second in points (259), first in power-play goals (45), first in game-winning goals (15) and eighth in hits (967).
• Eight of Weber’s 15 goals have come in the first period. The Preds are 11-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• Last Friday night against New Jersey, Weber posted his 10th career two-goal game (last March 31, 2012 vs. Chicago). His overtime game-winning goal was the sixth of his career and his 11th overtime point (6g-5a) behind only David Legwand on the club’s all-time overtime goal and overtime point lists.
• Eight (3g-5a) of his 38 points have come on game-winning goals.
• His team-leading 19 power-play points (9g-10a) are good for third among League defensemen (tie) and rank among the Top 15 skaters in the League.
• Weber ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:42) and has played past the half-hour mark seven times.
• Weber leads his team and ranks eighth in the NHL in blocked shots (125). He also ranks second on the team in hits (110).
• The Sicamous, B.C., native will serve as an alternate captain for the 2014 Canadian Olympic Team in Sochi later this month – it is his second Olympic appearance for Canada. 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.
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Roman Josi has 10 points (4g-6a) and a +10 rating in his last nine outings. He played more than 30 minutes for the fourth time this season on Saturday night in St. Louis (30:32). The Bern, Switzerland native ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:11). Josi is one of just three blueliners in the NHL this season, and one of three in franchise history, to record multiple shootout tallies. He was recently selected for his second Swiss Olympic Team. He was named to the Swiss team in 2010, but missed the Vancouver Games due to injury.
• Mike Fisher has compiled 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 19 games. The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:10) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forward (Legwand, 17:02). Fisher is also tied for the team lead in blocked shots (46) and ranks second hits (94).
• Craig Smith has four points (4a) in his last four outings, and 18 points (10g-8a) in his last 23 games. He ranks first in goals, third in team scoring (16g-18a-34pts) and second shots (138). The Madison, Wis., native is now three points shy of setting a career high (currently 36 points set during his rookie season (2011-12)).
• Seth Jones is 15th among first-year players in points (5g-16a-21pts), while he ranks second in games played (57), third in average time on ice (20:56), and is among the League’s Top 10 rookies in blocked shots (77), power-play points (8) and power-play goals (2).
TROTZ CLIMBS ALL-TIME LISTS
Barry Trotz, the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, ranks 14th on the all-time wins list (544) following Nashville’s win against New Jersey on Friday night. Trotz is now five wins shy of tying Marc Crawford for 13th all-time (549). The Dauphin, Manitoba, native is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL (1,171 games) and has the second-longest active tenure in all four major sports behind the San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich. Trotz’s system has seen marked improvement over the past 10 seasons, as the Preds posted a 145-199-49-17 record through the club's first five seasons, and 379-250-11-73 in the 10 seasons since, in addition to posting a 21-21-7 record in the playoffs during that span.
TEAM QUICK HITS
• Nashville has posted a 3-1-2 record in its last six road games.
• The Preds have posted four third-period goals in their last three games – outscoring the opposition 4-1 during that span. Nashville’s third-period goals helped it earn points in all three of those games. The third period has been the Preds most productive this season (49 goals).
• Nashville’s power play ranks among the League’s Top 10 teams (seventh, 20.5 percent). Its road power play is ranked 12th (18.8 percent) and its home power play ranks seventh (22.1 percent). The Preds are 19-5-2 when they score a power-play goal. Shea Weber leads the team with 19 points (9g-9a) on the man advantage.
• With the addition of Michael Del Zotto (23), Nashville has the youngest defensive corps in the League (23 years, 362 days). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other teams in the NHL with an average defensive age under 26 (including players on IR) are Columbus (25 years, 322 days) and Washington (25 years, 355 days).
• The Preds have played 29 home games and 28 road games going into Thursday night’s tilt against the Wild. They will play their final game before the Olympic break at home on Saturday against Anaheim.
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded – a span of 75 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville ranks third the League in team face-off win percentage (53.2 percent). The Preds have been 50 percent or better in the face-off circle in 43 of their 57 games.
• Of Nashville's top 13 point getters this season, 10 are Preds draft picks.
STORYLINES VS. MINNESOTA
The Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild face off on Thursday night in the fourth of five tilts this season; the Preds will return to the Twin Cities on April 13 to close out the season series. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Predators are 8-3-2 against the Wild, and have won three of the last six on Xcel Energy Center ice (3-2-1).
These teams last met in the Music City on Jan. 12, as the Wild scored a pair in the first and a pair in the third in a 4-0 shutout of the Preds.
In their last tilt in the Twin Cities on Oct. 22, the Wild shut out the Preds, 2-0, in what was Pekka Rinne’s most recent game for the Preds. Justin Fontaine scored with two seconds remaining in the second period and Jason Pominville tallied an empty-net goal at 19:35 of the third to secure the win.
Nick Spaling has eight points (5g-3a) in 12 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 29 career games against Minnesota… Eric 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… 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)).
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
February 4, 2006: Hartnell posts hat trick
Scott Hartnell tallied two goals in the first period, then added his 20th tally of the season with just 1:25 remaining to notch his first career hat trick in a 6-0 rout of Chicago at Bridgestone Arena, the ninth hat trick in franchise history and first by a Preds draft pick.
Tomas Vokoun put forth an admirable effort as well, stopping 40 shots, including 21 in the third period, for his second shutout of the season.
"It's cool to do this," Hartnell, who also assisted on a first-period marker by Greg Johnson, said. "I didn't think it would happen in this game. I've had a lot of two-goal games. You always wonder if you are ever going to do it. Getting three goals in an NHL game might be a once in a lifetime thing, but getting the win is so much more important."
Nashville scored two of its goals on the power play, while holding Chicago fruitless on four attempts, making the penalty kill a perfect 19-for-19 in three games. The victory continued a trend of dominance by the Preds against the ‘Hawks, extending a seven-game unbeaten streak dating back to March 1, 2004.
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