TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
The Nashville Predators pay their final visit to Joe Louis Arena tonight, less than a week after the Detroit made its first trip to Nashville. The Predators claimed that Saturday, Feb. 5 contest by a 3-0 score behind a 35-save shutout by Pekka Rinne – his 18th career whitewash – Sergei Kostitsyn’s first multi-goal game as a Predator (2g) and Shea Weber’s 10th goal of the season. That gave the Preds victories in two of their first three meetings with the Red Wings this season, as the teams have split the first two games in the Motor City. The last time they came to town on Dec. 8, the Predators claimed their fifth-ever regulation win in the City by a 3-2 score. The Predators would start a five-game winning streak that night on goals in the final minute of the first period (Colin Wilson at 19:27) and first minute of the middle frame (Martin Erat at 0:49), marking the first time in franchise history – and the first time in the NHL this season – that a team had scored a goal in the final minute of one period and scored again in the first minute of the next period. J-P Dumont would add a third-period insurance marker and Anders Lindback made 35-of-37 shots in his first career start against the Wings.
The penalty kill extinguished all five Detroit power plays on Saturday to improve to 13-for-14 against the Wings this season, while Nashville’s power play went one-for-four. The Preds are 4-4-0 at the Joe since the start of the 2008-09 season, and can finish with a winning record in the venue for the third time in franchise history with a win tonight. After tonight, these teams don’t meet again until late March, when they play twice in the final three weeks of the season (March 19 and April 2). Nashville is 10-20-7 all-time in the Motor City, but nine of those wins have come in the last six campaigns – it went 1-10-3 at The Joe from 1998-99 to 2002-03, but has posted an 9-10-4 record since the 2003-04 campaign.
Kostitsyn’s two goals on Saturday moved him into the team lead in points against Detroit this season with three (2g-1a)… Marcel Goc and Kevin Klein are a team-high +4 against Detroit this season… Dumont has more career points (10g-21a-31pts, 41gp) and more points as a Predator (7g-17a-24pts, 31gp) against the Red Wings than any other team... Steve Sullivan has amassed more assists against Detroit (31) than any other team. He has 22 points (6g-16a) in 25 games against Detroit as a Predator… Joel Ward has 10 points (6g-4a) in 13 games vs. Detroit as a Predator… Rinne’s shutout on Saturday was his third career whitewash of Detroit, making it the second team he’s posted more than two shutouts against (Phoenix is the other). For his career, Rinne is 6-2-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage against Detroit.
The Predators won 65 percent of the face-offs they took on Monday vs. Edmonton (32-of-49), the sixth time in the last eight games they’ve claimed the face-off battle. Nashville has claimed 55.9 percent of the draws during the stretch (231-of-413) to move into a tied for 10th in the League in the category (50.7 percent). The Preds bested the fourth-rated Red Wings in the circle 35 to 21 when these teams met last Saturday (63 percent). Leading the charge is Jerred Smithson, who is ranked eighth in the NHL in face-off efficiency (57.7 percent).
SHOTS DON’T TELL THE STORY
The Predators outshot the Oilers 37-22 on Monday, the first time in 12 games they’ve hit the 30-shot mark and the first time since Dec. 28 vs. Dallas (18 games) that the team has had more than 35 shots on net. Monday’s game marked just the second time in the last 12 games that Nashville has outshot the opposition, with the plus-15 shot differential ranking second only to that Dallas game three days after Christmas (plus-21, 46-25) in greatest shot advantage this season. The Predators entered Monday’s game with the League’s best record when outshooting the opposition (now are third in the NHL with a 14-6-3 record in the situation), and the loss to Edmonton was its first since the calendar turned to 2011 when the shot clock read in Nashville’s favor.
PENALTY KILL CONTINUES STINGINESS
The Nashville penalty kill was a perfect two-for-two on Monday vs. Edmonton, marking the fourth time in the last five games – and 34th time this season – that the club has not given up a power-play goal. The Predators have killed off 17-of-18 disadvantages in the last five games and are ranked third in the League at 85.8 percent. Monday also marked the 42nd time in 54 games this season that Nashville has been assessed 10-or-fewer penalty minutes. It ranks third in the League in fewest penalty minutes per game (9.1), behind Detroit (8.9) and Florida (8.0).
WEBER SECOND IN D-MAN POINTS SINCE NEW YEAR’S EVE
Though he had a four-game point streak snapped on Monday vs. Edmonton, 2011 All-Star Shea Weber ranks second among NHL blueliners in points since Dec. 31, posting 18 (5g-13a) in 18 games, second only to Phoenix’s Keith Yandle (19gp, 4g-15a-19pts). Weber is one of just three defensemen – along with Yandle and Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien – to lead his team in points. The Sicamous, B.C., native ranks among the defensive League leaders in several categories: goals (tied for fourth, 10), points (13th, 33), shots (third, 176), average ice time (10th, 25:05) and hits (tied for fifth, 142). He is just one point away from 200 for his career (74g-125a) and five goals behind Kimmo Timonen (79) for tops in goals by a Predator defenseman and 10th among all skaters.
PLAYER QUICK HITS Sergei Kostitsyn has seven points (3g-4a) in his last eight games, and a team-high 27 points (12g-15a) to go along with a +10 rating in 31 games since Dec. 1 after starting the 2010-11 season with three points (2g-1a) and a -7 rating in his first 19 games. He leads the NHL in shooting percentage (23.7) and the Predators are 11-2-0 when he finds the back of the net… Martin Erat had a four-game point streak snapped on Monday, but has points in 7-of-11 outings (2g-5a) since returning from a nine-game injury absence on Jan. 15… Ryan Suter is just two assists from tying Scott Walker for fifth on the franchise’s all-time list (151). He is tied for 12th among NHL defensemen in plus/minus rating (+18) and is 11th in the League in average ice time (25:00). The Predators are 24-13-6 with Suter in the lineup vs. 4-6-1 without him this season… Colin Wilson has 13 points (5g-8a) in his last 19 contests after posting 14 points (7g-7a) in his first 35 games of 2010-11.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 21-15-3 against the Western Conference, including a 9-6-1 mark against the Central Division… Tonight is Nashville’s League-high 32nd road game, meaning it leaves Bridgestone Arena just nine times after tonight. Besides a four-game trip to Western Canada and San Jose from March 1-8, the team has five one-game trips… The Predators are 28-19-7 through 54 games, good for 63 points. That is the identical number of points it had through 54 games last season (30-21-3 record) when the team put up 100 points for the third time in franchise history and made the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons… Nashville has the League’s third-best record when trailing after 20 minutes (7-9-1), and second-best record when trailing after two periods (4-12-0).