TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CHICAGO
Nashville hosts the defending Stanley Cup Champions for the first of three times this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the second meeting of the Predators and Blackhawks in 2010-11. The Predators claimed the first meeting of the clubs in their second game of the season on Oct. 13, a 3-2 victory at the United Center in Chicago. Despite giving up the first goal of the game and trailing 2-1 at the second intermission, the Predators rallied in the final frame on goals by Colin Wilson and Joel Ward, the latter of which, the game-winner, came with just 26.7 seconds left in regulation. Rookie netminder Anders Lindback collected his first career victory in his first NHL start by stopping 23-of-25 shots.
The last time the ‘Hawks visited Nashville was in Game Six of the teams’ Western Conference Quarterfinals series last spring, a game Chicago claimed 5-3 to pick up the series victory four games to two. The teams split the first two Nashville home games of the series, with the Preds claiming a 4-1 decision in Game Three and Chicago winning 3-0 in Game Four. During the 2009-10 regular season, the Predators won once both at home and on the road, with the home win coming on Oct. 29, 2009. Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots to record his first of seven shutouts on the season, with Ward (power play) and Jerred Smithson (shorthanded) collecting the goals.
In the all-time series, Nashville holds a 32-31-(4)-3 record against Chicago, including a 17-11-(3)-3 mark in the Music City. The Preds are 10-5-3 at home vs. the Blackhawks since the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
Martin Erat did not play in the Oct. 13 contest at Chicago, but led the club in scoring in the 2009-10 season series with five points (4g-1a) in five contests… All-time, David Legwand has more goals, assists and points (18g-28a-46pts) against Chicago than any other player against any other team in franchise history. He notched an assist in game No. 1 of the season series… With Nashville’s first goal of the game on Oct. 13, Steve Sullivan has 24 points (8g-16a) in 27 games against Chicago as a Predator. The Timmins, Ont., native was dealt from the Windy City to the Music City on Feb. 16, 2004 in exchange for a second-round selection in the 2004 Entry Draft (Ryan Garlock) and a second-round selection in the 2005 Entry Draft (Michael Blunden)… J-P Dumont started his career as a Blackhawk, posting 33 points (19g-14a) in 72 games from 1998-2000, before being traded to Buffalo on March 10, 2000. He has 24 points (6g-18a) in 34 career games against Chicago, including an assist on the game-winning goal on Oct. 13… Ryan Suter has 16 points (2g-14a) in 34 career games against Chicago, tied for his highest total against a single team.
Nashville took part in – and won – its first shootout contest of the season. Cal O’Reilly and Marcel Goc tallied the club’s two markers in the competition, while Pekka Rinne stopped three-of-four shooters. Rinne improved to 12-5 in shootouts, the fourth-best career winning percentage (.706) in the breakaway competition behind Kari Lehtonen (23-8, .742), Johan Hedberg (16-6, .727) and Mathieu Garon (18-7, .720). Additionally, his career save percentage of .767 in shootouts (56-of-73 saves), ranks fourth-best behind Antti Niemi (26-of-32, .813), Hedberg (68-of-86, .791) and Brent Johnson (34-of-44, .773). Since the shootout was implemented for the 2005-06 season, the Predators and Blues have used it to determine a winner eight times, tied for the third-most behind only Anaheim vs. Los Angeles and N.Y. Rangers vs. New Jersey (nine times each).
O’REILLY SETS A CAREER POINTS HIGH… ALREADY
With Nashville’s first goal of the game on Thursday at St. Louis, Cal O’Reilly not only extended his points streak to a career-high five games (2g-4a), but set a career high in points just 14 games into the 2010-11 season with a team-leading 12 (3g-9a). A season ago, the Varna, Ont., native posted 11 points (2g-9a) in 31 games; in 2008-09 he had five points (3g-2a) in his first 11 NHL contests. O’Reilly’s five-game stretch includes a four-game assist streak Oct. 30-Nov. 7, and he enters tonight in search of his first three-game goal streak, having found the back of the net in back-to-back outings for the second time in his career. He also has points in the last seven game in which Nashville has registered at least one goal dating back to Oct. 23 (3g-5a).
The 6-0, 188-pound center drafted 150th overall in 2005 has seen his productivity rise with increased responsibility. His 17:29 per game this season is a spike of more than four minutes over his first 42 career contests.
Nashville trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes in St. Louis on Thursday, but improved to 2-2-0 when trailing at the first intermission. Only Washington (8-3-0) has a better record in that situation. The Predators also picked up their third win of the campaign when giving up the first goal of the game, tied for the third-most wins in the League in that situation… The Predators entered Friday’s games having been shorthanded just 51 times (3.64 per game), tied with Toronto for the third-fewest in the League. They are also tied for fourth in fewest penalty minutes per game (10.4)... Tonight is Nashville’s only home game in a 26-day stretch from Oct. 30-Nov. 22. Additionally, the Preds play at Bridgestone Arena twice in a 13-game span between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23.