STARS (9-8-1) at PREDATORS (8-6-5)
TV: NBC SPORTS (Comcast 50/1607)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. DALLAS
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars drop the puck on their three-game 2012-13 series tonight after having split four games in each of the last four campaigns. The Predators have posted a 1-1-0 mark against the Stars both at home and on the road in each of the last three seasons, and hold a 14-11-1 record all-time against Dallas on home ice.
After giving up a combined 10 goals in a pair of losses against Dallas on Dec. 23, 2011 (3-6) and Jan. 5, 2012 (1-4), the Predators rallied to win the last two games of the 2011-12 slate. They edged the Stars by a 3-2 margin on Feb. 19, 2012 in Hal Gill’s Predators debut that saw Shea Weber score the game winner with less than a second remaining in the first period. The most recent matchup was Nashville’s 2011-12 home finale on April 5, 2012, a 2-0 victory behind a 28-save Pekka Rinne shutout and a pair of third period goals. No Predator had more than two points against Dallas a season ago, with 18 players registering a point.
Brandon Yip has the top points per game average against Dallas among active Predators with nine points (4g-5a) in 10 career games against the Stars. He scored his first career shorthanded goal as part of his second and most recent two-goal game on April 8, 2011 vs. Dallas. Also lists the Dallas Cowboys as one of his favorite sports teams growing up… Colin Wilson has six points (4g-2a) in nine career games against the Stars including his first career two-goal game on Dec. 28, 2011 vs. Dallas… … Gabriel Bourque has two goals in three career games against Dallas, including the first of his career on Jan. 5, 2012 vs. Dallas (Kari Lehtonen)… Chris Mason has a career record of 5-1-1 against Dallas with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage… Scott Hannan recorded an assist in his NHL Playoff debut in Game Five of the 2000 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Dallas on May 7.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. DALLAS
Gabriel Bourque – First career goal on Jan. 5, 2012 vs. Dallas (Kari Lehtonen)
Martin Erat – Played his first NHL game on Oct. 5, 2001 at Dallas.
Mike Fisher – Took his first of two career penalty shots on Dec. 5, 2001 at Dallas (Marty Turco): Goal.
Patric Hornqvist – A career high/franchise record 14 shots on goal on Dec. 28, 2010 vs. Dallas and scored his first career goal on Oct. 15, 2008 at Dallas (Marty Turco).
David Legwand – Most recent of two career hat tricks on Oct. 6, 2007 vs. Dallas.
PREDS RELY ON RINNE
In his last 11 appearances going back to Jan. 31, Pekka Rinne’s numbers are among the best in the League – he is 7-3-1 with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. He also has three shutouts – tied for first in the League – in his last eight starts: a 32-save effort in a 3-0 win on Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles, a 25-save whitewash in a 1-0 overtime win on Feb. 12 vs. San Jose, and a 19-save performance in a 3-0 win on Feb. 14 against Phoenix. The Kempele, Finland native has 28 shutouts since the start of the 2008-09 season, tops among netminders, while his goals-against average (2.31) and save percentage (.922) rank among the Top Five since then. To date in his career, February has been Rinne’s strongest month (27-14-9), with a 1.96 GAA, .933 save percentage, and 10 shutouts in 50 games played. Overall in 2012-13, Rinne ranks fifth in goals-against average (1.77) and is sixth in save percentage (.931) among starting goaltenders, in addition ranking second in time on ice (1,014:42) and tied for ninth in wins (7).
BARRY TROTZ: LONGEST TENURED COACH IN THE NHL
Having been at the helm since the franchise’s first game on Oct. 10, 1998, Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz is the longest tenured head coach in the National Hockey League (1,085 games) and has the second longest active tenure in all four major sports behind only Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. A Jack Adams Award finalist in both 2010 and 2011, Trotz is 15th on the all-time coaching wins list, and his 511 wins with the Preds is fourth on the wins with a single team list, just five shy of Billy Reay’s total with Chicago for third. The Dauphin, Man., native is the only coach to lead his team to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Nashville has been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 185 home victories, tied for the third most in the NHL. The Predators are 4-2-3 at Bridgestone Arena in 2012-13, and are the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive seasons.
The Preds have sold out a franchise-record 22 games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. L.A. Last season, the Predators sold out a record 25 games and averaged 16,690 fans, the highest average attendance in a single season. The team sold out all five 2012 playoff games, and the first nine games of 2012-13 to bring the streak to 22.
A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
The Predators are the only team in the Western Conference to advance to the second round in each of the past two seasons.
• The team is one of just five to reach the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and one of three to post 40-plus wins in seven consecutive seasons.
• The Preds have the Leagues fifth highest win total since the start of the 2005-06 campaign (328).
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 0 at Detroit 4
The Predators were shutout for the second consecutive game… Nashville outshot Detroit 33-27. It was the third time in five games the Predators have put more than 30 shots on goal after doing so only once in their first 14 games of 2012-13. It was also the sixth time in seven games the Preds had even or more shots than the opposition after doing so once in their first 12 games… Nashville recorded four penalty minutes for the fifth consecutive game, lowering its penalty minutes per game to 9.7, the second lowest total in the League. The Preds led the League in the category in 2011-12 (8.4) and 2009-10 (8.7), and ranked second in 2010-11 (8.8)… Craig Smith put a game-high six shots on goal. It was his highest total of the season, and the second highest total of his career. He also played 17:55, his highest total since Dec. 10, 2011 vs. Anaheim… Rich Clune put a career high four shots on net – he entered the game with eight shots on net in 17 games this season. Clune also played a career-high 16:14, more than double his season average (7:31)… Hal Gill played 4:07 before leaving the game with a lower-body injury… David Legwand topped all skaters by winning 73 percent of his face-offs taken (8-of-11)… Shea Weber played 24:22 to lead the Predators in ice time for the 17th time in 19 games. He leads the team in ice time and ranks seventh in the league in the category (26:08).
The Predators are 5-1-2 against the Pacific Division in 2012-13… Colin Wilson has been better than a point-per-game player for the Preds as of late, posting 13 points (4g-9a) in the month of February (12gp). He leads the Preds in points this season (5g-9a-14pts), after being in on 13 of the last 26 Predator goals… Nashville’s penalty kill has successfully extinguished 20-of-22 opportunities against (91 percent) in its last eight outings to rise to eighth in the NHL (84.4 percent). The PK has been even better on home ice, going perfect in seven consecutive games dating back to Jan. 31 vs. Los Angeles, and killing off 21 straight on Bridgestone Arena ice. The home penalty kill is ranked third at 92 percent… Nashville ranks third in the league in team goals-against average (2.05)… Nashville has scored first in 12 of its 19 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (7-0-5 record)… The Predators have garnered points in 13 of their first 19 games of 2012-13 – all but one in which they’ve scored a goal (a 6-5 loss at Colorado on Feb. 18)… The Predators are third in the League in blocked shots (295), and have three players ranked among the League’s Top 30 in the category – Scott Hannan (38), Kevin Klein (38) and Weber (35). Mike Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots with 27… Nashville has been outshot by its opponents in 13 of 19 games this season, but they hold the third-most wins in the League in those situations (6-4-3).
EXTRA TIME HALF THE TIME
The Predators have gone go overtime or a shootout in an NHL-high nine of their first 19 games in 2012-13, with the most recent being last Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win over Detroit courtesy of a Shea Weber goal 44 seconds into sudden death. Nashville is 4-5 in those nine OT/shootout games – three of the nine have been decided with an overtime goal (2-1 record), while six have gone to a shootout (2-4 record). Last season, Nashville needed extra time on 16 occasions in 82 games, tied for the third fewest in the NHL. The Preds didn’t go beyond 60 minutes for the ninth time in 2011-12 until game No. 38 on Dec. 30 at St. Louis.