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PREDATORS (8-5-5) at RED WINGS (7-7-3)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 443/HD: 9581; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. DETROIT
The Predators and Red Wings meet for the second time in this week tonight at Joe Louis Arena with Nashville holding the early edge in the four-game series thanks to a 4-3 overtime victory on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Shea Weber proved to be the overtime hero, scoring just 44 seconds into the frame to cap off a two-point night and earn First Star honors. Colin Wilson also notched a pair of points (2a), while both Craig Smith and Roman Josi scored their first goals of the season. When combining the Predators five-game Western Conference Quarterfinals victory last spring with the 2011-12 season series and the first game of the 2012-13 slate, the Predators have posted a 9-1-1 record against the Wings since Dec. 15, 2011. At Joe Louis Arena – in regular season games only – Nashville is 6-6-0 in the last four seasons after going 6-16-7 at the venue from 1998-2008.
Weber has five points (4g-1a) in his last five regular-season games against the Wings… Three of Nashville’s seven defensemen made their NHL debuts against Detroit – Weber on Jan. 6, 2006, Roman Josi on Nov. 26, 2011 and Ryan Ellis on Dec. 26, 2011… In 64 career games against his hometown team, David Legwand has 40 points (15g-25a)… For his career, Pekka Rinne is 12-5-3 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He also has three shutouts against Detroit, one of just three teams he has more than two whitewashes against (Phoenix, 4 and Minnesota, 3)… Sergei Kostitsyn has recorded 10 points (4g-6a) in 14 regular-season games against Detroit, and scored the game-winning goal in Game Three of the 2012 WCQ at Joe Louis Arena… Gabriel Bourque (3g-1a) tied for the team lead in points during last year’s playoff series against Detroit. Bourque set franchise records for points and plus-minus rating (+5) by a rookie in a playoff series, and by scoring two goals, including the game winner, in his NHL playoff debut – Game One of the WCQ vs. Detroit – he became just the third player in the last 14 playoff years to attain the feat.
LAST TIME OUT: Vancouver 1, Nashville 0 at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville was outshot for the 13th time this season (24-23), but it has the second-most wins in the League in those situations (6-4-3)… The three shots by the Canucks in the first period were the fewest allowed by Nashville in a period this season (tied; also on Feb. 12 at San Jose, 3rd per.)… Patric Hornqvist led all skaters with four shots on goal. He has posted 20 shots since his return from injury on Feb. 18 (nine periods). The Sollentuna, Sweden native is third on the team in shots (36) despite missing 10 games.… Nashville won the face-off battle (52 percent), led by David Legwand (9-of-15; 60 percent) and Nick Spaling (6-of-9; 67 percent) who both won more than 60 percent of their draws… Kevin Klein led all Nashville skaters with four blocked shots on the night… Shea Weber posted 25:27 of ice to lead the Predators for the 16th time in 18 games. He leads the team in ice time once again this season after averaging 26:14 per game (seventh in the NHL)… Nashville was called for only two minor penalties, and has afforded the opposition only a pair of power-play opportunities in each of the last four outings.
PREDS RELY ON RINNE
In his last 10 appearances going back to Jan. 31, Pekka Rinne’s numbers are the best in the League – he is 7-2-1 with a 1.12 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage. He also has three shutouts – tied for first in the League – in his last seven starts: a 32-save effort in a 3-0 win on Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles, a 25-save whitewash in a 1-0 overtime win on Feb. 12 vs. San Jose, and a 19-save performance in a 3-0 win on Feb. 14 against Phoenix. The Kempele, Finland native has 28 since the start of the 2008-09 season, tops among netminders, while his goals-against average (2.31) and save percentage (.922) rank among the Top Five since then. To date in his career, February has been Rinne’s strongest month, with a 1.81 GAA, .937 save percentage, and 10 shutouts in 59 games played. Overall in 2012-13, Rinne ranks third in goals-against average (1.63) and is third in save percentage (.936) among starting goaltenders, in addition ranking second in time on ice (955:00) and eighth in wins (7).
The Predators are playing the backend of their fourth of nine sets of back-to-backs in 2012-13 tonight after falling to Vancouver last night in the Music City. The Preds are 0-2-2 on the front end and 2-1-0 on the back end of two-games-in-two-nights scenarios to this point. Six times the Preds will play one game at home and one on the road (or vice versa), twice they’ll hit Bridgestone Arena ice on back-to-back days, and on one occasion will play two road games in two nights. A season ago, Nashville was 8-3-0 on the front end of back-to-backs, and 5-6-0 on the back end.
SUCCESS AGAINST THE CENTRAL
Nashville has started the 2012-13 season with a 2-1-2 record against divisional opponents, and this season’s 48-game schedule configuration calls for the Predators to play plenty of games against intra-divisional foes. Nashville will play two Central Division opponents five times (Columbus and Chicago), two Central Division opponents four times (Detroit and St. Louis), and all other Western Conference teams three times. A season ago, the Preds had the second-best intra-conference record, going 40-19-5 against the West versus 8-7-3 against the Eastern Conference. More importantly, Nashville posted a 16-5-3 (.729) against the Central Division, which along with the Atlantic, became the first two divisions to have four teams reach the 100-point plateau since the NHL went to its current format for the 1993-94 season. That was good for the third-best intra-divisional winning percentage behind Boston (19-4-1, .813) and Vancouver (18-5-1, .771), each of whom were the lone 100-point teams in the Northeast and Northwest Divisions, respectively.
PENALTY KILL COMING ON STRONG
The Nashville penalty kill has been a strongpoint for the club of late – it has been perfect in six of the last seven outings, successfully extinguishing 19-of-20 opportunities against (95 percent) in that span to rise to sixth in the NHL (85.5 percent). Nashville’s road PK ranks 14th in the League after allowing just seven goals on 37 times shorthanded (81.1 percent) The PK has been even better on home ice, going perfect in seven consecutive games dating back to Jan. 31 vs. Los Angeles, killing off 21 straight on Bridgestone Arena ice. The home penalty kill is ranked fourth at 92 percent.
Nashville ranks third in the league in goals-against average (1.94)… The Predators have garnered points in 13 of their first 18 games of 2012-13 – all but one in which they’ve scored a goal… The Predators are third in the League in blocked shots, and have three defenseman ranked among the League’s Top 25 in the category – Scott Hannan (37), Kevin Klein (36) and Shea Weber (35). Mike Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots with 27… Nashville has scored first in 12 of its 18 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (7-0-5 record)… The Preds are averaging the second fewest penalty minutes per game (10.1) after leading the League in the category in 2011-12 (8.4) and 2009-10 (8.7) and ranking second in 2010-11 (8.8).
BARRY TROTZ: LONGEST TENURED COACH IN THE NHL
Having been at the helm since the franchise’s first game on Oct. 10, 1998, Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz is the longest tenured head coach in the National Hockey League (1,083 games) and has the second longest active tenure in all four major sports behind only Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. A Jack Adams Award finalist in both 2010 and 2011, Trotz is 15th on the all-time coaching wins list, and his 511 wins with the Preds is fourth on the wins with a single team list, just five shy of Billy Reay’s total with Chicago for third. The Dauphin, Man., native is the only coach to lead his team to the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons.