Nashville visits the Xcel Energy Center for the second and final time tonight after taking the first of four 2009-10 meetings on Oct. 28 in St. Paul – the Wild visit the Music City on Saturday, and again on March 18. The season’s first meeting was a see-saw battle, as the Predators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 5:33 of the game, on goals by J.P. Dumont and Shea Weber, then fell behind on three Minnesota goals in a span of 1:47 in the second period’s opening minutes. Nashville would come back to tie the game on Mike Santorelli’s first career goal at 5:44 of the second, then receive the game winner on a shorthanded goal from Jerred Smithson at the 10:44 mark of the third. Pekka Rinne stopped 12-of-12 shots in 37:42 to pick up the victory in relief of Dan Ellis, the first time a Predator netminder had won in a relief appearance since Jan. 8, 2009 in a 5-3 victory.
Last season, these two teams split the series at two games apiece, with Nashville winning both its games behind shutouts by Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne. On Dec. 6 at the Sommet Center, Rinne stopped all 32 shots he faced and Dumont provided the lone goal of the game in a 1-0 Nashville victory. Then on Feb. 6 –during the club’s annual Father’s Trip – Ellis turned aside all 22 Wild shots he faced in a 2-0 white wash. In its 15th trip to the venue all-time, it was Nashville’s first shutout at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Nashville Predators are 0-2-1 all-time in games played on December 2. The Preds dropped road games 1-3 at St. Louis in 1999 and 2-4 at Anaheim in 2001, before picking up an overtime point against Chicago in 2006.
All-time series highlights: On Nov. 16, 2006 at the Sommet Center, Nashville pelted Niklas Backstrom and Manny Fernandez with a combined 45 shots and Minnesota put the same number on Chris Mason in what proved to be a franchise record for most combined shots in a game (90). The Wild won the game 7-6 in a shootout. On March 21, 2001, Mike Dunham (23 saves) and Jamie McLennan (27 saves) both recorded shutouts in the first of two scoreless ties in team history.
With a goal in the first meeting of 2009-10, Dumont has 18 points (6g-12a) in 18 games against the Wild, including 16 points (5g-11a) in 12 games as a Predator… With a pair of assists on Oct. 29, Steve Sullivan 15 points (5g-10a) in nine games against Minnesota since joining the Predators… With two points (1g-1a) in the last matchup, Weber has nine points (5g-4a) in 13 career games against Minnesota.
Joel Ward started his professional career in the Wild organization, playing three seasons in Houston (2005-08) and dressing for his first 11 NHL games with Minnesota in 2006-07… The Predators also have several recent draftees with Minnesota connections. 2006 sixth-round pick Ryan Flynn is a St. Paul native who played high school hockey at Centennial, and is now the senior captain of the University of Minnesota’s squad. 2008 sixth-round pick Jeff Foss, now a junior at R.P.I., played four seasons at Moorhead High School. Among 2009 picks, second rounder Zach Budish is also a Golden Gopher after playing high school hockey at Edina, while fourth rounder Nick Oliver won a state title at Roseau High School playing for his father, and is now in the USHL playing for the Fargo Force. He will attend St. Cloud State in 2010-11.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Wild Martin Erat – First career goal on Oct. 30, 2001 against Dwayne Roloson.
Mike Santorelli – First career goal on Oct. 29, 2009 against Niklas Backstrom. Jerred Smithson – First career goal on Dec. 1, 2005 against Roloson. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators finished November with a 9-4-0 record, their second-most wins during the season’s second month in franchise history… Nashville is 12-4-0 in their last 16 games, and has won eight of its last 10… The penalty kill has been perfect in eight of the last 11 games, killing 27-of-31 (87 percent) in that span… The Predators rank among the League’s Top 10 in goals against average (ninth at 2.62), shots per game (10th at 30.9) and face-off percentage (T-seventh at 51.7 percent)… The Predators have been shorthanded the second-fewest times in the League (85, 3.27 per game) and are averaging the second-fewest penalty minutes per game (8.9)… Nashville is 15-2-1 when scoring more than one goal, and 11-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game, the League’s second-best winning percent (.917) in that situation… Nashville is 14-6-1 in games decided by two goals or less…The Predators have the league’s fourth-best winning percentage (9-4-0, .692) when outshooting the opposition, which they have done in four of their last five victories… Nashville is 12-0-0 when scoring a power-play goal… The Predators are 7-3-1 when tied after two periods… Nashville .800 winning percentage in overtime/shootout games (5-1) is tied for second in the League behind only Pittsburgh (6-0). PLAYER QUICK HITS David Legwand paced the team in points and goals for the month of November (5g-6a). Two of his goals were game winners, while another came while shorthanded. Legwand has six points (3g-3a) in his last six games and nine points (4g-5a) in his last eight games. The club is 4-0-0 this season when he scores… Jordin Tootoo had a career-high four-game point/assist streak snapped last time out, but four straight with a helper is the highest by a Predator this season… Jason Arnott has seven points (4g-3a) in his last seven games… Shea Weber leads the league in road goals by a blueliner, with five of his six markers coming away from the Sommet Center. He is also is tied for second among League defensemen in power-play goals (4), and tied for third among NHL blueliners in goals (6). Weber is tied for second among d-men in shots (68)… The Predators are 14-2-2 over the past two seasons when Joel Ward scores, and are 9-0-0 in 2009-10 when Ward registers a point… Since coming off the bench to earn the decision in a 4-3 victory at Minnesota on Oct. 28, Pekka Rinne is tied for the League lead in wins, going 10-3-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and a pair of shutouts in that span.