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RED WINGS (19-15-7) at PREDATORS (15-19-8)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 441/HD: 9579; 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
Pekka Rinne made his League-leading 39th appearance of the season on Tuesday against St. Louis, stopping 25-of-26 shots – he has now earned a shutout or kept the opposition to one goal 14 times this season. The Kempele, Finland native paces the NHL in minutes (2,203:53) and is tied for the League lead in shutouts (5). His run of 25 consecutive starts and 29 straight appearances ended on Friday; both were the second-longest such streak in franchise history to Tomas Vokoun’s 38 starts from Jan. 16-April 6, 2003. In his last seven games, Rinne has posted a 1.85 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
YOUTH AT FORWARD
Daniel Bang (Tuesday vs. St. Louis) and Austin Watson (last Sunday at Chicago) are the latest Nashville forwards to make their NHL debuts this season, a group whose average age has come in at 25.5 years old the past two outings. Nashville’s three most veteran forwards – David Legwand (888gp), Sergei Kostitsyn (347gp) and Patric Hornqvist (287gp) have combined for 1,522 career contests, the team’s other nine players up front have combined for 708 NHL games. Five of those nine have played 55 games or less. With veterans Paul Gaustad and Mike Fisher, and full-timers Colin Wilson, Brandon Yip and Gabriel Bourque out due to injury, Bang and Watson have joined Taylor Beck (13gp), Rich Clune (55gp) and Chris Mueller (30gp) as rookies on the front end.
KEEPING THE SHOT CLOCK LOW
The Predators held Dallas to just 18 shots on goal in Friday’s game, the second-lowest total by a Predators opponent this season and the third time Nashville has held the opposition to less than 20 shots in 2012-13. The Predators are allowing an average of 27.3 shots per game, the sixth-best mark in the league.
HOME SPECIAL TEAMS REMAIN SOLID
On Friday vs. Dallas, the Predators were awarded three power-play opportunities in a game for the first time since April 1 at Chicago, converting once. Nashville’s power play is clicking at a 24.6 percent rate on home ice, the third-highest home mark in the NHL. On the penalty kill, Nashville relinquished a goal for just the second time in the last eight games – it has killed off 12-of-14 times shorthanded in that span. The Preds were shorthanded more once for the first time in four games, and more than twice for the first time in six games on Friday; they have been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the NHL (124), and are one of just four teams averaging less than 10 penalty minutes per game (9.9).
LEGWAND LEADS PREDS
David Legwand has posted six points (3g-3a) in his last seven games, and 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 19 games dating back to March 8 against Edmonton. Those totals also move him atop both the team’s goals and points lists – he is tied with Gabriel Bourque in goals (11) and Shea Weber in points (11g-12a-23pts). Seven of Legwand’s 11 goals this season have come in the third period; in 2011-12 he scored 12 of his 19 goals in the third period or overtime. Nashville’s all-time leading scorer is just one goal shy of 200 for his career.
WEBER STRONG ON THE BACK END
Shea Weber is not only tied with David Legwand for the team lead in points (8g-15a-23pts), but is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen in goals, and is tied for 10th at the position in points. Weber is currently tied with Jason Arnott (107) for third on the franchise’s all-time goals list, while already ranking fourth in points (286) and fifth in assists (179). The Sicamous, B.C., native also has a franchise-best +46 rating and 49 power-play goals, while ranking second in overtime markers (5).
• Weber has 22 points (8g-14a) in his last 29 games.
• The back-to-back Norris Trophy runner-up led the team in ice time for the 34th time this season on Friday (25:34). He ranks leads the League in total ice time (1,091:30) and fifth in average ice time (25:59).
• Weber leads the team and is third among defensemen in shots (108).
• Weber ranks among the Top 20 at the position in both hits (93) and blocked shots (80) – he’s the only blueliner to rank among the Top 25 in points, hits and blocked shots while averaging more than 25:00 per game.
LAST TIME OUT: Dallas 5 at Nashville 2
• Five of the six Predators who took a faceoff in the game were at 50 percent or better. Nashville is at 50.6 percent on the dots on the season, which would be the team’s highest winning percentage since 2008-09 (52.2 percent).
• Bobby Butler scored his first goal with Nashville. He now has five points (1g-4a) in 14 games since being claimed on waivers on March 4 from New Jersey.
• The Butler goal was assisted by a player earning his first point in a Predators uniform – Daniel Bång. Bång lived up to his name on another section of the scoresheet as well, as he was credited with four hits on the evening, tied with Kevin Klein for a team high.
• Taylor Beck scored his first career power-play goal. Beck and Butler each had four shots on goal, a season high for each player (Beck, twice previously, last on March 23 vs. Calgary).
• Roman Josi picked up one of the assists on the Beck goal to earn his 17th point of the season, pushing him past his 52-game point total from last year. Josi picked up five points (2g-3a) in the season series against the Stars, leading the Predators.
• By being called for Delay of Game in the first period, Nick Spaling picked up his first penalty in a month (March 12 at Dallas), while Rich Clune added to his team lead in penalty minutes (96 penalty minutes) with a five-minute major, his 12th of the 2012-13 campaign – the second highest total in the League.
• Chris Mason made his fourth start of the season, and first since Feb. 18 at Colorado.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. DETROIT
The Detroit Red Wings visit Bridgestone Arena for the final time as a Central Division rival on Sunday, the third of four meetings between the Red Wings and Nashville Predators in 2012-13. While Detroit claimed victory the last time these teams met on Feb. 23 at Joe Louis Arena, the Preds took a 4-3 overtime victory on Feb. 19, the most recent meeting in the Music City. 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. It was Nashville’s second consecutive home-ice win against the Wings, and when combining the Predators five-game Western Conference Quarterfinals victory last spring with the 2011-12 season series and the two games of the 2012-13 slate, the Predators have posted a 9-2-1 record against the Wings since Dec. 15, 2011. In regular season games only, Nashville has just one home-ice loss to Detroit over the past four seasons.
Weber has five points (4g-1a) in his last six regular-season games against the Wings… Both members of Nashville’s top defensive paring made their NHL debuts against Detroit – Weber on Jan. 6, 2006 and Roman Josi on Nov. 26, 2011… In 65 career games against his hometown team, David Legwand has 40 points (15g-25a)… For his career, Pekka Rinne is 12-6-3 with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He also has three shutouts against Detroit, one of four teams he has more than two whitewashes against (Phoenix 5, Dallas and Minnesota, 3)… Sergei Kostitsyn has recorded 10 points (4g-6a) in 15 regular-season games against Detroit, and scored the game-winning goal in Game Three of the 2012 WCQ at Joe Louis Arena… Austin Watson has yet to play against the team located 30 minutes from his hometown of Ann Arbor, and across the river from where he began his junior career (Windsor).