TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. TAMPA BAY
The Nashville Predators visit Tampa for the first time in nearly two years tonight at St. Petersburg Times Forum, the one-and-only meeting of the Predators and the Lightning this season. These two teams have played just five times in the last six seasons, with Nashville going 1-3-1. The victory came last season, on Dec. 15, in a game that saw the Preds put up a season-high seven goals in a 7-4 win at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville’s first win over Tampa Bay since Jan. 15, 2003 came thanks to a five-goal outburst in the second period; the club trailed 2-1 heading into the frame. It was only the sixth time in franchise history the club has scored five-plus goals in a period. All seven goals were scored at even strength, with 14 different players making a mark on the scoresheet. Patric Hornqvist (1g-1a), David Legwand (1g-1a), Marcel Goc (2a) and Joel Ward (2a) were the only Predators with multi-point outings, while Shea Weber (vs. Steve Downie), Kevin Klein (vs. Stephane Veilleux) and Jerred Smithson (vs. Ryan Malone) all picked up rare fighting majors.
While the Predators hold a 4-7-(2)-1 record all-time against the Bolts, they haven’t beat them in Florida since the 1998-99 season, falling three times and tying twice since then. That inaugural season game on March 24, 1999 saw Mike Dunham stop 27 shots to record his first shutout as a Predator – and the franchise’s first road whitewash – in a 3-0 victory. Greg Johnson posted three points (1g-2a), Sergei Krivokrasov notched a goal and an assist, and Patrick Cote scored his only goal as a Predator in the victory.
Veteran forwards J-P Dumont and Steve Sullivan have played 18 career games against the Lightning, with Sullivan putting up 13 points (4g-9a) and Dumont posting 11 (5g-6a)… Defenseman Shane O’Brien spent parts of three seasons with the Lightning from 2006-09. Acquired by Tampa Bay from Anaheim along with Colorado’s third-round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft (Tampa Bay selected Luca Cunti) for goaltender Gerald Coleman and Tampa Bay’s first-round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft (traded to Minnesota; Minnesota selected Colton Gillies) on Feb. 24, 2007, O’Brien played 96 games with the Bolts, posting 22 points (4g-18a) and 190 penalty minutes. He was traded to Vancouver along with forward Michel Ouellet for Lukas Krajicek and Juraj Simek on Oct. 6, 2008.
RINNE RECORDS FIRST SHUTOUT OF THE SEASON
Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne stopped all 30 shots he faced Saturday night in Dallas to record his first shutout of 2010-11, and 15th of his career. All of Rinne’s shutouts have come since Dec. 1, 2008, the most in the League in that span. Additionally, the Predators have scored two-or-fewer goals in 13 of the 15 whitewashes, and the Kempele, Finland native has stopped 30-or-more shots in seven of the shutouts. Since the 2010 Olympic break, Rinne has posted a 14-4-4 record with a 1.84 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage and five shutouts. This season, he’s ranked among the top six in both goals-against average (1.58) and save percentage (.955)
The Predators scored just 42 seconds into Saturday night’s contest at Dallas, marking the third time in the first seven games of the season they’ve struck in the opening minute. David Legwand put Nashville up 1-0 just 53 seconds into Thursday’s game vs. Pittsburgh, while Marcel Goc struck 56 seconds into a 4-3 Preds victory over St. Louis on Oct. 14. Nashville scored in the opening minute twice all of last season – Martin Erat scored 34 seconds into a 4-3 shootout victory on Feb. 14, 2010 and Shea Weber scored a mere 12 seconds into the Predators road finale at Phoenix on April 7, 2010.
With the shutout of Dallas on Saturday, the Predators held firm at 14 goals allowed in seven games, making them one of just four teams with a goals against average of 2.00 or less (2.00). Seven of those goals against were scored at five-on-five, tied for second in the League in that category. Additionally, Nashville has a five-on-five goals for/against ratio of 1.57, fourth-best in the League. Part of the defensive success has come thanks to the penalty kill, which has been perfect in each of the last three games (10-for-10 total).
The Predators are the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss, going 4-0-3 through seven games. Eleven points through seven contests is the second-highest total in franchise history, behind only a 7-0-0 (and eventual 8-0-1) start by the 2005-06 squad… The Predators have won each of their first two road games this season, building on last season’s success away from Bridgestone Arena. In 2009-10, Nashville posted a 23-15-3 (49 points) record, tying a franchise record and ranking fourth in the League in road wins… Nashville is 1-0-0 in the second-half of back-to-backs in 2010-11, with tonight marking the second of 13 sets of back-to-backs Nashville will play this season. Last season, it went 7-7-1 in the first game and 9-6-0 in the second game… Saturday night at Dallas, the Predators started a stretch that will see them play 11-of-13 games on the road leading up to American Thanksgiving.
2010-11 PREDATORS ONE DRAFTEE SHY OF FRANCHISE MARK Teemu Laakso became the 16th Predators draft – and fourth from the Class of 2005 – to suit up for the club this season. A season ago, Nashville set a franchise record with 17 draftees dressing for at least one game, a mark it is sure to break as the 2010-11 campaign progresses. The breakdown of the draftees is as follows: First-rounders include David Legwand (2nd overall, 1998), Ryan Suter (7th overall, 2003) and Colin Wilson (7th overall, 2008), second-rounders include Kevin Klein (37th overall in 2003), Nick Spaling (58th overall in 2007) and Shea Weber (49th overall in 2003), Laakso (78th overall in 2005), Cody Franson (79th overall in 2005) and Alexander Sulzer (92nd overall in 2003) were taken in the third round, Jordin Tootoo was picked in the fourth round (98th overall in 2001), Mark Dekanich (146th overall in 2006) and Cal O’Reilly (150th overall in 2005) were tabbed in the fifth round, Martin Erat (191st overall in 1999), Patric Hornqvist (230th overall in 2005) and Anders Lindback (207th overall in 2008) were selected in the seventh round and goaltender Pekka Rinne was an eighth-round pick (258th overall in 2004).