TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. TAMPA BAY
The Nashville Predators host the Tampa Bay Lightning for just the ninth time ever and the third time in the last seven seasons tonight at Bridgestone Arena. It is the fifth straight campaign the Lightning and Predators have met once with Nashville claiming the last two decisions. Last season’s lone contest – in the second game of one of the toughest back-to-backs in the League which saw the Preds play in Dallas less than 24 hours prior – saw Anders Lindback make 42 saves to lead Nashville to its first victory in Tampa since its inaugural season, 4-3. Dec. 15, 2009 was the last time the Lightning visited the Music City, and the home team came out on top that night, 7-4. Not only was it the last time Nashville dropped seven goals on a team, but it was also just the sixth time in franchise history it scored five goals in a period, doing so in the middle frame. All seven goals were scored at even strength, with 14 different players making a mark on the scoresheet. Patric Hornqvist (1g-1a), David Legwand (1g-1a), Marcel Goc (2a) and Joel Ward (2a) were the only Predators with multi-point outings, while Shea Weber (vs. Steve Downie), Kevin Klein (vs. Stephane Veilleux) and Jerred Smithson (vs. Ryan Malone) all picked up rare fighting majors.
Martin Erat has five points (1g-4a) in eight career games against Tampa Bay… Nick Spaling has recorded an assist in each of the first two games he’s played against the Bolts.
PREDS TAKE ACTION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER TONIGHT
The Nashville Predators will be showing their support for the National Hockey League’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative with the first of two We Care for Kids benefit nights held this season – the second of which will be held in March – throughout tonight’s game.
To help support the fight against cancer, the Predators Foundation will hold an auction including special Hockey Fights Cancer warm-up jerseys worn and autographed by the players during tonight’s pregame skate, as well as plates designed and painted by cancer patients and autographed by Preds players, Preds coaches and broadcasters will don lavender Hockey Fights Cancer ties, and the silent-auction table will offer Hockey Fights Cancer themed Mystery Sticks and bracelets as well as Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt t-shirts. All proceeds from the silent auction – and 25 percent of every single-game ticket sold – will be donated back to Children’s Hospital.
FISHER AND BOUILLON RETURN
Veteran forward Mike Fisher and defenseman Francis Bouillon made their 2011-12 debuts in Tuesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks, doubling the number of over-30 players in the lineup (David Legwand and Jerred Smithson are the others). Bouillon – paired with Jack Hillen – played 17:32 and dished out three hits in his first game since sustaining a concussion on Jan. 16, 2011 at Chicago, while Fisher teamed up with Craig Smith and Sergei Kostitsyn to form Nashville’s top line. The Peterborough, Ont., native notched an assist on Smith’s third period power-play marker, logged 19:30, and won a game-high 12 face-offs.
SMITH STRIKES AGAIN
Nashville rookie Craig Smith scored Nashville’s lone goal at 13:12 of the third period on Tuesday night, giving him points in back-to-back games (1g-1a) for the second time through eight career games. Smith became the first NHLer since Philadelphia’s David Laliberte in October/November 2009 to score in each of his first two games, and the first player to score in each of his first two NHL games – with those also being his team’s first two games of a season – since Edmonton Oilers forward and former Predator Rem Murray did it in October 1996 when he scored in the season opener on Oct. 7 at Columbus, then posted three points (1g-2a) the following night at St. Louis. The Madison, Wis., native – who is one of three former Wisconsin Badgers on the Predators with Blake Geoffrion and Ryan Suter – is tied for third among League rookies in both points (3g-3a-6pts) and goals. Smith played a career-high 19:41 on Tuesday, and put six shots on goal, tying the highest single-game total by a Predator this season.
The Nashville Predators look to continue their success on home ice in 2011-12 after finishing last season with a 24-9-8 record (56 points) at Bridgestone Arena, making them one of just three teams (Conference-winners Vancouver and Washington) to amass more than 55 points and have less than 10 regulation losses on home ice. 2010-11 marked the sixth consecutive season Nashville posted at least 23 home victories, making it the only franchise to do so. Since the start of the 2005-06 campaign, the Predators have posted a 155-68-25 record at Bridgestone Arena, good for the fourth-most home wins in the League (155) behind Detroit (161), San Jose (157), and New Jersey (156).
REMEMBERING WADE BELAK
The Nashville Predators are honoring former teammate and club employee Wade Belak – who died tragically on August 31 – in several ways throughout the 2011-12. There are two logos being used to remember Belak – a No. 3 logo which is in the bottom left of each players’ helmet – and an internal logo which can be found on the wall of the Predators dressing room and on team apparel. The team also has a firefighter helmet which goes to the player of the game after a win, as selected by the previous player who had it. Belak was a member of the Williamson County (Nashville suburbs) Fire and Rescue Squad.
COUNTDOWN TO NASHVILLE’S 1,000TH GAME The Nashville Predators will celebrate their 1,000th NHL regular season game on Saturday, November 12 vs. Montreal. Leading up to this game – and all season long – we will look back on some of the most memorable moments in Predators history to date. October 27, 2007: Vokoun Returns
Bittersweet would best describe Nashville’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Florida on Oct. 27, 2007. While Jerred Smithson played hero for the Predators by scoring his second game-winning goal in a 48-hour span – it coming with just 13 seconds left in regulation to create his first career goal-scoring streak – it was the return of longtime Predator Tomas Vokoun that stole the headlines. A video tribute during the first TV timeout of the game and a standing ovation welcomed Vokoun back to the Music City, a place where he transformed from a minor-league depth player into an All-Star and the backbone of one of the NHL’s most-competitive teams over a nine-year span.
The Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic native played 383 games and notched 161 victories in a Predators uniform, registering the franchise’s first shutout (Jan. 15, 1999 vs. Phoenix), appearing in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and finished fourth in balloting in 2005-06 for the Vezina Trophy. He backstopped the club to its first playoff appearance in 2004 and nearly stole the club’s first post-season series from the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings with a .939 save percentage.