TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. MINNESOTA
Nashville and Minnesota battle for the second time in four days, the third time this season, and the first time in the Music City tonight at the Sommet Center. On Wednesday night, the Predators dropped their final trip to the Twin Cities by a 5-4 score in overtime – the team’s first overtime loss since March 18, 2009. Despite the loss, the line of Steve Sullivan, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont continued to click, combining for three of Nashville’s four goals and nine of its 12 points. It was Sullivan’s third four-point game as a Predator (1g-3a), and first since Feb. 21, 2004 at Phoenix. For Arnott, it was his 16th multi-goal game as a Predator, and first three-point game of the season. 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 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.
Nashville is now 4-2-2 in its last eight games against Minnesota after going 1-0-1 so far this season. The Predators have split their four home games against Minnesota since the start of 2007-08, but are 7-3-(1)-1 in the Wild’s last 12 trips to Nashville. The Predators won Minnesota’s last trip here on Dec. 6, 2008 – a 1-0 decision behind Dumont’s third-period goal and Rinne’s 32-save shutout.
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, Sullivan has 17 points (5g-12a) in eight games against Minnesota – he posted eight points (3g-5a) in four games in 2006-07, three points (1g-2a) in two games last season, and six points (1g-5a) in a pair of games this season… Dumont has three points (1g-2a) in two games against the Wild this season, giving him 20 points (6g-14a) in 19 career games against Minnesota, including 18 points (5g-13a) in 13 games as a Predator… Since joining the Predators, Arnott has 14 points (7g-7a) in 13 contests against Minnesota… Dan Hamhuis has more points against Minnesota than any other non-Central Division opponent. He has 11 points (4g-7a) in 22 career games against the Wild… Shea Weber’s five career goals against Minnesota is tied for the most against a single opponent in his career (with Columbus, Edmonton and Los Angeles).
Tonight marks just the third time in franchise history that the Preds will play a game on December 5. Nashville split its first two Dec. 5 appearances, dropping a 3-1 decision to Buffalo in 1998 and winning a 3-2 game at Los Angeles in 2002.
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… Ryan Jones – recalled on Thursday – was acquired by the Predators along with a second-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (Charles-Olivier Roussel) for Marek Zidlicky on July 1, 2008. Jones played his first eight professional games with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston – four regular season games (0g-0a) and four 2008 Calder Cup playoff games (1g-1a).
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
Tonight concludes the fifth of 15 sets of back-to-backs Nashville plays in 2009-10. It is 2-3-0 in the first half, and 3-1-0 in the second half so far this season… Since receiving 11 of their 16 goals from special teams between the third period on Nov. 14 vs. Montreal and the second frame on Nov. 25 at Colorado, the Predators have scored 14 consecutive goals at even strength… Nashville is 13-4-1 in its last 18 games, and has won nine of its last 12…The Predators are tied for fifth in the NHL in home wins (9), are tied for eighth in overall wins (16)… The Predators have scored in the first period in nine of their last 11 games (12 goals). They had just nine first-frame goals in their first 17 games of the season. Additionally, Nashville has given up just four first-frame markers in the last seven games. It had given up four in three games prior to the current stretch… The Predators have been shorthanded the second-fewest times in the League (88, 3.14 per game) and are averaging the second-fewest penalty minutes per game (8.8)… Nashville is 16-2-2 when scoring more than one goal, and 11-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game, the League’s fifth-best winning percent (.846) in that situation… The penalty kill has been perfect in nine of the last 13 games, killing 27-of-32 (84.3 percent) in that span… The Predators have the league’s fifth-best winning percentage (9-4-1, .643) when outshooting the opposition, which they have done in four of their last six victories… Nashville is 14-6-2 in games decided by two goals or less and 12-0-0 when scoring a power-play goal. PLAYER QUICK HITS Martin Erat has eight points (4g-4a) in his last eight games. Four of his five goals this season have come at home, while six of his seven assists in 2009-10 have come on the road… Jordin Tootoo has points (1g-5a) in five of his last seven games… Dan Hamhuis has four points in his last four games (2g-2a). All nine of his points this season (2g-7a) have come at even strength… Marcel Goc has points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games for the first time as a Predator. He has three goals in his last 12 games played, topping his 55-game output (2g) with San Jose in 2008-09… David Legwand has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last 10 games. The club is 4-0-0 this season when he scores… Jason Arnott has 10 points (6g-4a) in his last nine games… Joel Ward scored Nashville’s fourth goal last night, moving the Predators record to 15-2-2 over the past two seasons when he scores, and 10-0-0 in 2009-10 when Ward registers a point… Steve Sullivan has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 11 games… Of J.P. Dumont’s team-leading 14 assists, half have come on the power play, while half have come on home ice. Dumont has 17 points (4g-13a) in his last 17 games… Cody Franson, who collected his first point (assist) in 12 games last night, leads the Predators, and ranks third among rookie defensemen in plus/minus (plus-5).