PREDATORS (3-2-3) at BLUES (6-2-0)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 447/HD: 9517; 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
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Nashville Predators hit game No. 9 on the 2012-13 season, but will play the St. Louis Blues for the third time tonight at the Scottrade Center as the club winds down its franchise-record tying seven-game road trip. The Predators also visited St. Louis in game No. 2 of this trip back on Jan. 24, falling by a 3-0 score. The teams also met Jan. 21 at Bridgestone Arena, with the Blues winning in a shootout, 4-3. Four of the last seven games between Nashville and St. Louis have gone to a shootout, and dating back to 2005-06 when the shootout was implemented, Nashville has gone to a shootout 13 times with the Blues, more than any other team (8-5 record). Despite the two losses, Nashville has garnered points in six-of-eight games (4-2-2) against the Blues since the beginning of last season, and have a 41-30-12 record all-time in the series. While the Preds play Chicago and Columbus five times in 2012-13, they only meet St. Louis and Detroit four times; the final Preds-Blues meeting is set for April 9 in Nashville.
The injured Patric Hornqvist has been in on all three goals the Predators have scored against the Blues this season, notching his ninth career three-point performance (1g-2a) back on Jan. 21… Both Mike Fisher (1g-1a) and Martin Erat (2a) have two points in two games against the Blues this season. Erat has six points (2g-4a) in his last six games against the Blues… Scott Hannan finished the Jan. 24 game with seven blocked shots – the same total as the entire St. Louis Blues lineup… David Legwand has played 68 career games against the Blues – more than any Predator player against any opponent all-time – posting 33 points (11g-22a)… Pekka Rinne stopped 36 shots in the Jan. 24 loss. Nashville has not lost in regulation when Rinne makes 35 saves or more in a game since Dec. 26, 2010, going 25-0-3 since that date. For their careers, Pekka Rinne (12-7-4 record) and Chris Mason (13-4-2 record) have combined to post a 25-11-6 record against St. Louis, with Rinne putting up a 1.99 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage while Mason possesses a 2.05 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Mason ended his second stint with the Predators when he was traded to the Blues on June 20, 2008. In 118 games with St. Louis from 2008-10, the Red Deer, Alta., native posted a 57-43-15 record with eight shutouts, a 2.47 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
Nashville has won its last two games via shootout, meaning the team has gone to the post-overtime tiebreaker an NHL-high five times through its first eight games of 2012-13. The Predators dropped their first three shootout decisions, but got on track Thursday at Los Angeles (W, 2-1) and Saturday at San Jose (W, 2-1) with shooters going a combined 5 for 10 (50 percent) and Pekka Rinne stopping 8-of-11 shots (.727). On Saturday, Craig Smith converted for the second straight game, notching his first career shootout-deciding goal, while Rinne stopped all three shooters. Forty-eight hours prior, Nashville tied a franchise record with four shootout goals in an eight-round competition with the Kings courtesy of David Legwand, and first career markers by Gabriel Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn (shootout-deciding goal) and Smith.
A season ago, Nashville only needed the shootout 10 times (5-5) – tied for eighth fewest times in the League – and didn’t reach its fifth shootout of the campaign until Feb. 7, 2012, game No. 53.
Nashville finished the California portion of its franchise-record tying seven-game road trip by allowing just a single goal in back-to-back games, meaning in three contests in the Golden State, the Preds allowed just four regulation goals. Through eight games in 2012-13, the team is allowing an average of 2.12 regulation goals per game, the fourth-best mark in the National Hockey League. Additionally, Nashville has allowed just 10 even-strength goals through eight games, an average of 1.25 per game – tied for fifth in the League.
QUICK TO STRIKE
Sergei Kostitsyn scored Nashville’s lone goal of Saturday’s game just 59 seconds into the third period, marking the second consecutive game the Predators scored in the opening minute of a period – Brandon Yip struck 58 seconds into the opening frame of Nashville’s 2-1 shootout win at Los Angeles on Thursday. The Preds also scored 39 seconds into the season opener (Martin Erat on Jan. 19 vs. Columbus), while Yip scored at the 1:52 mark of the first period on Jan. 26 at Anaheim as well.
A FRANCHISE RECORD ROAD TRIP
The Nashville Predators close out their franchise-record tying seven-game road trip tonight in St. Louis having already secured a .500 point percentage with a 3-2-1 record. The Preds started the trip with a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Jan. 22 before losses in St. Louis on Jan. 24, Anaheim on Jan. 26 (in a shootout) and Phoenix on Jan. 28. They righted the ship with back-to-back shootout wins on Thursday at Los Angeles and Saturday at San Jose. The Predators finally return to Bridgestone Arena ice for the first time since Jan. 21 on Thursday against Los Angeles.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2 at San Jose 1 in a shootout
San Jose and Nashville needed more than 60 minutes to determine a winner for the fifth time in their last seven meetings, and on the 13th occasion all-time... Sergei Kostitsyn opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at 0:58 of the third period. Colin Wilson notched his first assist of the campaign on the goal… Pekka Rinne stopped 26-of-27 shots to pick up his second straight win, meaning he has turned aside 49 of the last 51 shots he’s faced… Nashville doled out 30 hits, led by Paul Gaustad’s game-high five. Gaustad also led all skaters with 15 face-off wins on 24 tries (63 percent)… Craig Smith put a team-high and personal season-high five shots on goal… Shea Weber led all Nashville skaters in ice time (29:34). He has led the Predators in ice time in seven straight games (Roman Josi played a team-high 27:30 in the season opener), and is fifth in the league in average ice time (27:32)… The Predators were without their two points leaders - Martin Erat (2g-2a) and Patric Hornqvist (1g-3a). Erat also led the team in points last season (58), while Hornqvist led the team in goals (27).
Scott Hannan leads all NHLers in blocked shots (24). He has played more games than any NHL defenseman in the last 10 seasons (806), and has averaged more than 20 minutes in nine of those 10 campaigns. In his first season with Nashville, he has played more than 20 minutes in seven of eight games and is averaging 22:00… Mike Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots (14) and ranks 10th at the position in average ice time (21:34)… After pacing the club with a career-high 58 points (19g-39a) a season ago, Martin Erat is tied with the injured Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in points (2g-2a). The Trebic, Czech Republic native ranks second on Nashville’s all-time goals and points lists (161g-303a-464pts)… The Predators rank ninth in the League in fewest shots against per game (27.4)… The Predators have been shorthanded 30 times this season, seventh fewest in the League.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE CENTRAL
Though Nashville has started the 2012-13 season with an 0-1-2 record against divisional opponents, there will be plenty of opportunities to improve on that mark as this season’s 48-game schedule configuration calls for the Predators to play two Central Division opponents five times (Columbus and Chicago), two Central Division opponents four times (Detroit and St. Louis), and all other Western Conference teams three times each. A season ago, the Preds had the second-best intra-conference record, going 40-19-5 against the West versus 8-7-3 against the Eastern Conference. More importantly, Nashville posted a 16-5-3 (.729) against the Central Division, which along with the Atlantic, became the first two divisions to have four teams reach the 100-point plateau since the NHL went to its current format for the 1993-94 season. That was good for the third-best intra-divisional winning percentage behind Boston (19-4-1, .813) and Vancouver (18-5-1, .771), each of whom were the lone 100-point teams in the Northeast and Northwest Divisions, respectively.
THE KEVIN KLEIN RADIO SHOW
Join 102.5 The Game for the Preds Player Show with Kevin Klein Presented By Fifth Third Bank at Dave & Buster's at Opry Mills. Klein will have a special guest for each show, with the first being goaltender Pekka Rinne this Wednesday, Feb. 6. Each show will be from 6-7 p.m.
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