TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 445 SD, 9515 HD; Comcast Nashville 295) Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.9-FM WBUZ Tom Callahan's Game Day Update
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLUMBUS
The Predators head into Columbus tonight looking to avenge a 2-0 loss in their first trip to Nationwide Arena just nine days ago. That night (Nov. 22), the Predators closed out a four-game road trip, and stretch of nine roadies out of 10 games overall between Oct. 30-Nov. 22, by being shut out for the first time in a franchise-record 44 road games dating back to Nov. 7, 2009. The penalty kill was perfect in that tilt, and has extinguished 10-of-11 Blue Jacket power plays since Dec. 31, 2009 (four games). A season ago, the Preds posted a 5-1-0 record against the Jackets, taking two-of-three road games while sweeping all three games at home. A shootout/overtime was necessary to determine four of the six games, and five-of-eight contests have needed extra time since April 4, 2009. All three Nashville-Columbus games played at Nationwide in 2009-10 came within a six-week stretch from Dec. 14, 2009-Jan. 26, 2010.
Nashville is 16-10-3 all-time in Columbus, including a 9-4-2 mark over the past four-plus seasons. Overall, Nashville is 23-4-2 in the series since 2006-07, and 40-13-(4)-1 against the Jackets all time. Fifteen of the last 18 games in the series have been won by the home team.
Martin Erat paced all Predators in points vs. Columbus last season with seven (3g-4a) in five games. The Trebic, Czech Republic native has more career goals and points against the Blue Jackets than any other team in the League (13g-26-39pts, 45gp), including 38 points (9g-29a) in 39 games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign… Steve Sullivan has 43 points (16g-27a) in 43 career games vs. Columbus, including a hat trick in Nashville’s visit to Nationwide on Dec. 14, 2009… Shea Weber has more points against the Blue Jackets than any other team (5g-10a-15pts, 24gp)… Jordin Tootoo has amassed 88 penalty minutes against Columbus, just one minute shy of his total against St. Louis, which is the most by any player against any team in franchise history.
Last season, Nashville claimed 4-3 shootout decisions its first two times hosting Columbus: On the day his son Ryder was born, Nov. 21, David Legwand posted a goal, an assist and the shootout winner to claim First Star honors and on Dec. 10, Ryan Suter led the charge with a pair of assists and Steve Sullivan sealed the deal in the fifth round of the breakaway competition in a Predators victory. Nashville’s final home victory on March 20 was a 1-0 overtime win that saw Pekka Rinne stop all 33 shots he faced for his second straight shutout (he had blanked Minnesota two nights prior) and Cody Franson score the game’s lone goal at 1:54 of sudden death.
The Predators have only one regulation home loss to the Blue Jackets since the start of the 2001-02 season, going 23-1-(1)-1 in that span. Additionally, they are a perfect 14-0-0 against Columbus at Bridgestone Arena since the start of the 2006-07 campaign, the longest active home winning streak in the NHL. Overall, Nashville is 23-3-2 in the series since 2006-07, and 40-12-(4)-1 against the Jackets all time. Fourteen of the 17 games in the series have been won by the home team.
RINNE NOTCHES 17TH CAREER SHUTOUT Pekka Rinne’s 33-save performance in Nashville’s 3-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night was his third shutout of the 2010-11 campaign (30 saves in a 3-0 win on Nov. 18 at Montreal, 30 saves in a 1-0 win on Oct. 23 at Dallas), moving him into a tie for third in category behind only Tim Thomas and Carey Price’s four whitewashes. All 17 of Rinne’s career whitewashes have come since this date two years ago (Dec. 1, 2008), putting him first in the League since that date (Tomas Vokoun, Steve Mason and Martin Brodeur are tied for second with 14 apiece). The 3-0 score marked just the fourth time the Kempele, Finland native has received more than two goals in offensive support in a shutout victory.
Since that shutout at the Bell Centre in Montreal two weeks ago, Rinne has stopped 155-of-163 shots in seven starts, good for a 1.22 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage. For the season, the Kempele, Finland native now ranks eighth in goals-against average (2.35) and ninth in save percentage (.919).
As a team, the Predators have held the opposition to two goals or fewer in six of the last seven games. Excluding shootout tallies, Nashville has a 1.38 goals-against average in that span, lowering its 2010-11 team mark to 2.52, seventh in the NHL.
The Preds have allowed just two third-period tallies in their last nine games, and opponents have found the back of the net only 18 times during the final frame in the club’s 23 contests, tied for the seventh-lowest total in the League. Additionally, the Predators have relinquished two second-period goals in the last seven games, and their 17 goals against in the middle frame is tied for second fewest in the NHL.
PENALTY KILL TIES FRANCHISE RECORD
By going a perfect 3-for-3 against Phoenix on Tuesday, the Nashville penalty kill tied a franchise record for most consecutive games without allowing a man-advantage marker at seven dating back to Nov. 18 at Montreal (three times done previously, last Feb. 19-March 5, 2009). In that span, the PK has extinguished 24 straight opposition power plays. Having gone perfect in nine of the last 10 outings since a 3-2 shootout win at St. Louis on Nov. 11, the man-down unit improved from 78.7 percent (23rd NHL) to 83.9 percent (10th NHL). Also aiding matters in Nashville’s discipline – it has been shorthanded 87 times, second-fewest in the Western Conference, and averaged 10.7 penalty minutes fewest in the West.
The Predators are now 3-2-0 on the front end of back-to-backs, and 2-1-1 in the second game… Nashville is 7-7-2 vs. the West, including a 4-3-1 mark against the Central Division… The Predators have three of the Top nine defensemen in hits – Francis Bouillon leads all NHL blueliners (76), with Shea Weber (fourth, 67) and Shane O’Brien (ninth, 62) close behind… The Nashville Predators have won the face-off battle in each of their last seven games, posting a 58 percent success rate in that span (208-of-359 draws won). Jerred Smithson – who won 14-of-20 draws in Tuesday’s win – has won 68 percent of the draws he’s taken over the stretch (62-of-91), and now ranks sixth in the League in face-off success rate at 58.9 percent… Cal O’Reilly has 10 (4g-6a) of his team-leading 14 points (5g-9a) on the road.