TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
Nashville and St. Louis clash for the second time in two weeks tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the second of six times the teams will play each other in 2010-11. The Predators have won five consecutive games in the series dating back to Dec. 29, 2009, including a 4-3 decision 14 days ago. That night – in Nashville’s second home tilt of the season and third game overall – the home team jumped out to a quick lead on a Marcel Goc goal just 56 seconds into regulation, and led 3-1 after 14 minutes of play on two goals by Steve Sullivan. Patric Hornqvist provided the game winner on the power play at 16:21 of the second. Cal O’Reilly tied a career high with a three-assist performance, while rookie netminder Anders Lindback stopped 32-of-35 shots in his first home start.
Six of the last seven meetings between the clubs have been decided by two goals or fewer, and 12 of the last 16 Preds-Blues contests going back to Feb. 16, 2008 have been decided 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 15-1-3 in that span. Overall, Nashville is 28-6-3 in that span.
With a multi-point outing in game No. 1 of the season series, Hornqvist now has eight points (4g-4a) in his last six games against St. Louis. He made his NHL debut against the Blues on Oct. 10, 2008, and notched a career-high three assists in a 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center on April 1, 2010… Sullivan’s two goals on Oct. 14 were the 20th and 21st of his career against the Bluenotes, his highest goal total against any of the NHL’s 30 teams. Sullivan has 49 points (21g-28a) in 57 career games vs. St. Louis, also his highest point total against any team… Jordin Tootoo has seen more offensive success against the Blues than any other NHL team. The Rankin Inlet, Nunavut native has 13 points (6g-7a) in 28 career games against St. Louis – he has no more than three goals against any other club. With four penalty minutes in the first matchup of 2010-11 with St. Louis, he now has 72 career penalty minutes against the Blues – second-most for a single player against a single team in franchise history to the 88 he has amassed vs. Columbus… Ryan Suter notched an assist in the Oct. 14 contest, giving him 15 career assists and 16 career points vs. St. Louis. The assist total is his highest against a single team, while the point total is tied for first with his total vs. Chicago (2g-14a)… Pekka 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% against them.
NASHVILLE GOOD IN THE CLOSE ONES
With its 4-3 win on Sunday at Tampa Bay, Nashville earned a point in a one-goal game for the 23rd consecutive time dating back to Feb. 9, 2009 at N.Y. Islanders (18-0-5). The Predators have played in seven consecutive one-goal games since winning the season opener 4-1 vs. Anaheim on Oct. 9, leaving them as the only team in the League without a regulation loss. Their 13 points through seven contests is the second-highest total in franchise history, behind only an 8-0-0 (and eventual 8-0-1) start by the 2005-06 squad.
THE SCANDINAVIAN TOWERS
Not only is the goaltending tandem of 6-foot-5 Pekka Rinne and 6-foot-6 Anders Lindback the tallest netminding duo in NHL history, but they have allowed just 17 goals through eight games, helping Nashville to the third-best team goals-against average in the League (2.12). Rinne, from Finland, recorded his first shutout of the season, and 15th since Dec. 1, 2008 (most in the NHL in that span), in a 1-0 victory at Dallas on Saturday, lowering his goals-against average to 1.58 and boosting his save percentage to .955 – both ranked among the Top Five in the League. 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. Then on Sunday, Nashville’s Swedish rookie stopped 42-of-45 shots, most seen by a Preds goalie this season, to improve his record to 3-0-1.
The Predators have been perfect on the penalty kill the last four games, killing off 14 straight man disadvantages in that span to boost their PK percentage from 64.3 percent one week ago, to 82.1 percent prior to tonight’s game vs. St. Louis… The Predators are 4-0-1 against the Western Conference this season… Tonight is one of just two home games the Predators play between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23. They play 11 road games in that span, including 9-of-10 starting Saturday at Detroit… The Predators have outscored the opposition 9-4 in the first period, allowing just one opening frame marker in the last five contests. Nashville has also outscored its foes 7-4 in the second period – allowing just two goals in the last five games – despite being outshot 100-77 in the middle frame… The Predators are outscoring the opposition 15-10 at full and even strength, giving them the third-best five-on-five goals for/against ratio in the NHL (1.50)… Shea Weber has points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games. He’s ranked among the Top 10 NHL blueliners in hits (fifth, 25), blocked shots (tied for ninth, 21) and average ice time (10th, 25:30)… Colin Wilson has points (2g-3a) in five of the last seven games… Cal O’Reilly tallied his team-leading fifth assist of the season on Sunday, moving him into a tie for first on the club in points (1g-5a-6pts)… Martin Erat has three assists in his last three games… Jerred Smithson is ranked second in the NHL in face-off efficiency (65.9 percent).
SUCCESS STARTS AT THE TOP
With back-to-back wins last weekend, the Predators not only continued their quick start to the 2010-11 campaign, but head coach Barry Trotz continued to edge closer to fifth all-time in NHL history in both games coached and wins with a single franchise. Sitting at 910 games behind the Nashville bench, Trotz is just four contests away from tying legendary Montreal bench boss Toe Blake for fifth on the games coached list – something he is slated to attain Saturday, Nov. 6 at Los Angeles. Jack Adams sits fourth on the list with 964 games coached with Detroit (1927-47). With 416 victories, the Dauphin, Man., native is also just three victories shy of fifth on the wins with one team list, with Scotty Bowman’s tenure with Montreal in his sights (419, 1971-79).
Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile, meanwhile, ranks third all-time in both wins (1,010) and games (2,090) by a general manager. Harry Sinden (1,146) ranks first on the wins list, followed by Glen Sather (1,100), while Sather is first on the games list (2,324) with Sinden (2,152) second.
PREDATORS PROSPECT LINUS KLASEN NAMED REEBOK/AHL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Milwaukee Admirals left wing Linus Klasen – signed by the Predators as a free agent last spring – was named Reebok/AHL Player of the Week on Monday in just his second full week as a North American pro. The Stockholm, Sweden native amassed six points (3g-3a) in three games to take home the honors.
Klasen, 24 (2/19/86), leads the American League in goals (7) and ranks among the league leaders in points (10) through seven games for the Admirals. The 5-8, 178-pound sniper spent the last three seasons with Sodertalje of the Swedish Elitserien, tying for fifth in points (19g-32a-51pts) a season ago.