TV: no local TV Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.9-FM WBUZ
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CAROLINA
The Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes close out their two-game 2010-11 set tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The clubs faced off for the first time this season in Raleigh just two weeks ago, with the Predators battling back from a one-goal first period deficit to win 2-1 in a shootout thanks to a Jerred Smithson goal and shootout markers by Cal O’Reilly and Martin Erat. The victory gave Nashville four consecutive wins over the ‘Canes and points in six straight dating back to Dec. 3, 2003 (5-0-(0)-1 record). The Preds’ last regulation loss to Carolina was also the only time the club has beaten them on home ice – a 2-1 Hurricanes victory on Dec. 3, 2002. Nashville is 5-1-(0)-0 when hosting its neighbors from the east, and 9-3-(1)-1 in 14 all-time matchups. Special teams has been crucial to the Predators success against the Hurricanes both all-time and recently. In the 14 games vs. Carolina, the Preds have given up just four power-play goals, killing off 51-of-55 man disadvantages. Since the start of the 2002-03 campaign, the PK has successfully extinguished 35-of-36 chances against, a 97.2 percent success rate. Likewise, the power play has clicked since the lone meeting of the 2002-03 season, going 6-for-29 (20.7 percent).
In Carolina’s last trip to the Music City – and the lone Preds/Canes game of last season on Jan. 7, 2010 – Nashville used a two-goal, three-point effort from Patric Hornqvist, and one-goal, one-assist outings from Steve Sullivan and J-P Dumont to double-up the Carolina 4-2.
All-time series highlight: Two massive franchise milestones were achieved in the second regular-season game in the Nashville Predators’ inaugural season on Oct. 13, 1998 vs. Carolina: the team’s first goal and the franchise’s first win. Former Predator and current member of the Minnesota Wild Andrew Brunette was credited with the first tally in club history at 5:12 of the first period after a lengthy video review. Denny Lambert and J.J. Daigneault also lit the lamp for Nashville in the 3-2 victory over the. All five of the game’s goals were scored in the first period, including a tally from Carolina’s Martin Gelinas (now Director of Player Development for Nashville). Mike Dunham earned the win in net with 34 saves.
Dumont has posted points in three-of-four games he’s played against Carolina as a Nashville Predator (2g-2a), including his first career shorthanded goal in last season’s game and the only tally in a 1-0 Predators win in 2007-08. For his career, he has 20 points (13g-7a) in 24 games against Carolina… Sullivan has amassed 14 points (4g-10a) in 18 career games vs. Carolina, while Shea Weber has five points (2g-3a) in five games against the ‘Canes… Pekka Rinne stopped 21-of-22 shots and four-of-five shootout attempts two weeks ago to improve to 2-0-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage for his career against Carolina.
PENALTY KILL SETS A FRANCHISE RECORD
With a perfect four-for-four performance on Wednesday at Columbus, the Predators penalty kill set a franchise record for most consecutive games without allowing a man-advantage goal at eight, dating back to Nov. 18 at Montreal. In that span, the PK has extinguished 28 straight opposition power plays, the third most consecutive kills in franchise history behind 29 straight from Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 2006 and 34 straight from April 1-13, 2006. The penalty kill has also been perfect in five straight road games, tied for the second-longest such streak behind only a seven road game stretch from Dec. 7, 2000-Jan. 4, 2001. The Preds have killed 19 straight man disadvantages on the road, tied for the third longest in club history.
Having gone perfect in 10 of the last 11 outings since a 3-2 shootout win at St. Louis on Nov. 11, the man-down unit has gone from 78.7 percent (23rd NHL) to 84.6 percent (ninth NHL). On home ice, the killers are tied for sixth at 87.2 percent.
NASHVILLE GOES TO THE SHOOTOUT FOR THE SIXTH TIME IN 11 GAMES
The Predators needed extra time to determine a winner for a League-high ninth time on Wednesday at Columbus, and after a scoreless overtime, took part in their sixth shootout in 11 games since Nov. 11. Nashville is 4-2 in the breakaway competition this season, and has won 8-of-10 shootouts since defeating Pittsburgh on 2010 Valentine’s Day. Since that date – Nashville’s final game before the Olympic Break – goaltender Pekka Rinne has stymied 34-of-30 attempts to boost his career save percentage in the shootout to .778, fifth-best all-time. Additionally, Rinne’s career record of 15-7 in shootouts is tied for seventh since the implementation of the tiebreaker in 2005-06. This season, the 6-5, 209-pound netminder has seen a League-high 21 shooters and posted a 4-2 record and a .810 save percentage. All-time, the Predators are 33-24 (.579) in the shootout, but 18-10 (.643) against Central Division rivals.
RINNE PLAYING WELL
Since a 3-0 shutout at Montreal on Nov. 18, goaltender Pekka Rinne has stopped 183-of-194 shots in eight appearances, good for a 1.44 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. For the season, the Kempele, Finland native is now tied for eighth in both goals-against average (2.38) and save percentage (.918).
Nashville is 3-1-3 against the Eastern Conference and 2-0-1 against the Southeast Division… The Predators have played just 10 home games, tied for lowest in the League. Nashville plays four of its next five, and six of its next 10 games against the Eastern Conference… The Preds are 4-1-5 on home ice this season and play four of their next six games at Bridgestone Arena… As a team, the Predators have held the opposition to just 13 goals in the last eight games, lowering its team goals-against average to 2.54, seventh lowest in the League. Their 18 goals allowed in the second period are tied for third fewest in the NHL… The Predators have had 16 of their 24 games this season determined by a single goal, going 8-3-5 in those games. Since Feb. 9, 2010, they’ve posted a 22-3-7 record in one-goal games… Nashville’s power play is 4-for-20 (20 percent) after going 3-for-69 (4.3 percent) over the previous 17 games. The Preds are 5-2-1 when scoring a power-play goal, and 9-3-4 when not giving up a power-play goal… Nashville is averaging 10.6 penalty minutes per game, fewest in the Western Conference and third fewest in the League behind Carolina and Atlanta… The Predators are 4-4-1 when trailing after 20 minutes, the League’s fourth-best record in that situation.
Both Patric Hornqvist (3a) and Steve Sullivan (1g-2a) have three points in the last four games… The Predators have three of the Top 11 defensemen in hits – Francis Bouillon leads all NHL blueliners (78), with Shea Weber (fourth, 70) and Shane O’Brien (11th, 64) also ranked high… Jerred Smithson – who has won 67 percent of the draws he’s taken in the last eight games (71-of-106), and now ranks sixth in the League in face-off success rate at 59 percent… Weber is ranked seventh in the NHL in average ice time (25:14), and third among defensemen in shots (76).
On Friday, the Predators recalled goaltender Mark Dekanich from Milwaukee (AHL) for the second time this season. Dekanich, 24 (5/10/86), backed up rookie netminder Anders Lindback for three games during a five-day recall to Nashville from Oct. 12-17. The North Vancouver, B.C., native has posted three shutouts in his last eight starts for the Admirals, and recently set a franchise record with a 209:31 shutout streak from Nov. 7-18. Nashville’s third choice (146th overall) in the 2006 Entry Draft is ranked second in the League in shutouts (3) and wins (tie, 10), in addition to fourth in save percentage (.941) and goals-against average (1.71).