TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Predators take on the Blues for the first of six times in 2010-11 tonight at Bridgestone Arena, and do so riding a four-game winning streak in the series dating back to Dec. 29, 2009. Nashville took five-of-six meetings between the clubs a season ago, all of which were decided by two goals or fewer. Additionally, 11 of the last 15 Predators-Blues contest have been determined by a single goal. On home ice, the Preds have failed to gain at least a point against St. Louis just once since the start of the 2005-06 season, going 14-1-3 in that span. Overall, Nashville is 27-6-3 in that span.
These teams last met in Nashville’s regular-season finale on April 10, winning by a 2-1 margin courtesy of Martin Erat’s shootout tally and Pekka Rinne’s three-for-three effort in attempts against. The Nashville netminder also stopped 33 shots in regulation/overtime to claim First Star honors.
Patric Hornqvist led all Predators in points, and tied for the team lead in goals against St. Louis a season ago, posting six points (3g-3a) in five games… Jordin Tootoo has seen more offensive success against the Blues than any other NHL team. The Rankin Inlet, Nunavut native tallies three points (1g-2a) in four games in 2009-10, bringing his career total to 13 points (6g-7a) in 27 career games against St. Louis – he has no more than three goals against any other club. His 68 career penalty minutes against them are second-most for a single player against a single team in franchise history to the 88 he has amassed vs. Columbus… Steve Sullivan’s next goal against the Bluenotes will be the 20th of his career against them – he currently has a team-high 19 goals and 47 points in 56 career games against St. Louis… Rinne posted a 5-1-0 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage against the Bluenotes a season ago, putting his career mark at 7-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA and a .926 SV%.
Goaltenders by Age
at Time of His First Preds Win
Vokoun-- 22 yrs, 161 days (2-1 vs. SJ on Dec. 10, '98) Lindback-- 22 yrs, 163 days (3-2 at CHI on Oct. 13, '10) Rinne-- 23 yrs, 42 days (5-3 vs. CHI on Dec. 15, 05) Dunham-- 26 yrs, 134 days (3-2 vs. CAR on Oct. 13, '98) Ellis-- 27 yrs, 128 days (3-0 vs. ATL on Oct. 25, '07) Mason-- 27 yrs, 263 days (4-3 OT vs. COL on Jan. 8, '04)
-- stats courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau--
MILESTONES WITHING REACH EARLY IN 2010-11 J-P Dumont – ONE point away from 250 points as a Predator. Matthew Lombardi – THREE assists away from 150 career assists. Jamie Lundmark – FIVE games away from 300 career games. ONE point away from 100 career points. Jerred Smithson – SIX games away from 400 career games. Steve Sullivan – FOUR points away from tying Scott Walker for fifth on the franchise’s all-time points list. SIX points away from 250 points as a Predator. ONE goals away from tying Scott Hartnell and Greg Johnson for fifth on the franchise’s all-time goals list, and FOUR goals away from tying Walker for fourth. Ryan Suter – FIVE games away from 400 career games Shea Weber – SEVEN points away from tying Marek Zidlicky for second on the franchise’s points by a defenseman list.
LINDBACK WINS FIRST CAREER START
Rookie goaltender Anders Lindback stopped 23-of-25 shots, including all 15 he faced over the final two periods, to claim his first NHL victory in his first NHL start. At 22 years, five months and 10 days old, the Gavle, Sweden native is the second-youngest goaltender to win a game for the Predators; Tomas Vokoun won his first game as a Pred at 22 years, five months and 8 days old. Similar to netminding partner Pekka Rinne, Lindback’s first win came at the United Center – Rinne won his first career start on Dec. 15, 2005 at Chicago. However, with Rinne out for last night’s game, the tandem of Lindback and Mark Dekanich became the first goalie duo with no prior NHL starts since Nov. 26, 2006 when Anaheim dressed Michael Wall and David McKee in a 5-3 victory.
PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF
• The Predators won by one goal less than 24 hours ago, continuing a theme in 2009-10 of playing well in close games. They went 42-19-6 in games decided by two goals or less a season ago – the most wins in the NHL in that situation. Their 28-9-6 mark in one-goal games ranked second. Starting with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Feb. 10, the Predators posted a 14-0-1 record in one-goal games through the end of the season.
• The Predators won despite trailing after 20 minutes of play – they had the League’s top record when trailing after 20 minutes (10-9-2) a season ago.
• Nashville gave up the first goal of the game at Chicago – it was tied for second in wins when giving up the first goal of the game (19) in 2009-10.
• Last season, the Predators went 9-6-0 in the back-half of back-to-backs after posting a 7-7-1 record on the front end. Tonight wraps up their first of 13 back-to-back sets this season.
PREDATORS IN ELITE CLASS WITH FIVE STRAIGHT 40-WIN/23 HOME-WIN SEASONS
The Predators finished the 2009-10 season with a 47-29-6 record (100 points), making them one of just five teams who have reached the 40-win mark in five consecutive seasons (San Jose, New Jersey, Calgary and Detroit are the others). In five NHL seasons since 2005-06, the Predators have amassed 230 victories, the fifth-most in the League, and third-most in the Western Conference. Additionally, the club has 132 home victories since the start of the 2005-06 campaign, tied for the second-most in that span behind only Detroit (137). The Predators are one of just four teams (with Detroit, New Jersey and Minnesota) to have at least 23 home victories in each of the last five campaigns. Going back one more season to 2003-04, Nashville is one of just four Western Conference teams, and one of eight teams overall, to make the playoffs at least five times.