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STARS (14-10-5) at PREDATORS (14-14-3)
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; 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
STORYLINES VS. DALLAS
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars square off on Thursday night for the first of five meetings on the 2013-14 slate. The Stars will return to the Music City on Jan. 20, 2014, while the Preds will head to “Big D” on three other occasions. Nashville won two of three meetings in the shortened 2012-13 season and is 23-30-2 all-time against the Stars. Despite the overall record, Nashville holds the 15-12-1 advantage on home ice.
In their last meeting at Bridgestone Arena on April 12, 2013, the Stars used two first-period goals and three goals in the final 40 minutes to defeat the Preds, 5-2.
Patric Hornqvist had three points (1g-2a) in two games against the Stars in 2012-13, and has 10 points (6g-4a) in 16 career games against Dallas… Craig Smith has four points (1g-4a) in six career games against the Stars… Colin Wilson has seven points (4g-3a) in 10 career games against the Stars… Eric Nystrom played the previous two seasons with Dallas, posting 32 points (23g-9a) in 95 games.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. DALLAS
• Gabriel Bourque scored his first NHL goal on Jan. 5, 2012 (Kari Lehtonen).
• Rich Clune converted his first-career penalty shot on March 12, 2013 (Kari Lehtonen).
• Mike Fisher scored on the first of two career penalty shots on Dec. 5, 2001 (Marty Turco). Fisher also appeared in his 800th career NHL game on March 12, 2013.
• Patric Hornqvist posted a career-high/franchise-record 14 shots on goal on Dec. 28, 2010, and scored his first career goal on Oct. 15, 2008 (Marty Turco).
• Roman Josi recorded a career-high in goals and points (2g-2a-4pts) on Feb. 25, 2013.
• David Legwand posted the most recent of two career hat tricks on Oct. 6, 2007.
• Viktor Stalberg tallied a career-high three assists on March 16, 2013, and attempted his first career penalty shot on Jan. 5, 2011 (no goal).
• Shea Weber appeared in his 500th career NHL game on Feb. 25, 2013.
• Colin Wilson notched is first career two-goal game on Dec. 28, 2011.
GRINDERS AND GOALS
The line of Rich Clune, Paul Gaustad and Matt Hendricks combined for seven of Nashville’s 12 points on Tuesday night in New York City. In addition to finding the scoresheet, all three forwards recorded their first multi-point games in a Preds sweater.
• Clune potted his first goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, at 17:52 of the first period. It was his first goal since March 28, 2013 – a span of 32 games – and first point of the season. It was Clune’s second career game-winning goal. He would later add the primary assist on Hendrick’s third-period goal to complete his second-career multiple point game (his last came on Feb. 13, 2010 with Los Angeles).
• Gaustad doubled his season points output with three (1g-2a) on the night. The Portland, Ore., native posted assists on both Clune and Hendrick’s goals before adding his fourth marker of the season – an empty-netter – at 18:54 of the third period. It was Gaustad’s fourth-career three-point outing, tying his career high, and his first since Jan. 21, 2012, when he tallied a goal and two assists with the Sabres. He is now just four points from breaking the 200-point plateau for his career.
• Hendricks re-established Nashville’s two-goal lead with his second goal of the season at 2:38 of the third. With his assist on Clune’s goal, Hendricks completed the fourth multi-point game of his career, tying his career high (last on Oct. 22, 2011).
• The line also accounted for eight of Nashville’s 26 shots on goal.
• Fisher has four goals in his last eight outings to move into seventh in points (7g-5a-12pts) on the team. Five of Fisher’s seven goals have come on Bridgestone Arena ice.
• The Peterborough, Ont., native also leads all Preds forwards in ice time (18:26) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forwards (David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist, 16:17) – and ranks second in shooting percentage (14.6 percent), while ranking third in hits (48) and blocked shots (20).
• In addition to leading the team in goals, Weber is tied for fifth in team scoring (7g-6a-13pts).
• Weber is tied with Zdeno Chara (BOS) and Michael Stone (PHX) for second in goals among blueliners (7). Nashville’s captain is the only defenseman in the League to lead his team in goals.
• The Preds are 7-0-0 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• Weber played more than 30 minutes (30:25) on Tuesday night for the third time this season. He has led Nashville in ice time in 17 of the last 22 games he’s played to rank sixth in the League in the category (26:17).
• Nashville’s captain leads the team and ranks 13th in the League in blocked shots (65) after blocking seven shots on Tuesday night, and ranks second on the team in hits (67).
SOLID IN THE CIRCLE
The Predators rank second the League lead in team face-off win percentage this season (54.2 percent). Nashville has been better than 50 percent in the face-off circle in 26 of its 31 games. Nashville is led in the face-off circle by Paul Gaustad, who has won 311-of-514 face-offs (60.5 percent), to lead the League in the category (minimum 350 draws). Matt Cullen also ranks among the League’s top face-off men (eighth, 57.1 percent), winning 213-of-373 draws.
• Since becoming a father for the first time on Nov. 13, Gabriel Bourque has posted eight points (3g-5a) in 13 games, including four points (1g-3a) in his last eight.
• Matt Cullen has posted nine points (3g-6a), including three multi-point outings, in his last 12 games. He is one of only three players 37 years old or older to play for Nashville (Hal Gill and Martin Gelinas).
• Patric Hornqvist picked up an assist on Nick Spaling’s first-period goal on Tuesday, giving him three points (3a) in five games since returning from injury, and 11 points (3g-8a) in his last 17 games. The Sollentuna, Sweden native ranks second in goals and team scoring (6g-10a-16pts), and he leads the team with 83 shots.
• Seth Jones leads all first-year players in average time on ice (23:07). The Frisco, Texas native ranks among the League’s Top 20 first-year players in points (3g-7a-10pts), assists, goals and shots on goal (45), while first in blocked shots (55), fourth in power-play points (5) and fifth in power-play goals (2) among rookies.
• David Legwand recorded his seventh multi-point game (2a) of the season on Tuesday night, giving him 15 points (4g-11a) in his last 19 outings to lead the team with 22 points (5g-17a) in 31 games. Fifteen (5g-10a) of Legwand’s 22 points have come away from the Music City.
• Craig Smith has seven points (3g-4a) in his last 10 outings. The Madison, Wis., native leads the team with nine points (3g-6a) and a +5 rating in 14 home games. Smith ranks third in team scoring (6g-9a-15pts) and second shots (73).
• Smith (3g-4a) and Legwand (1g-6a) are tied for the team lead with seven points in 10 divisional games.
• When the Preds score first they hold onto the lead, going 12-1-2 in those contests.
• Six of Nashville’s 14 wins this season have come by one goal – it is 6-0-3 in one-goal games.
• Nashville is 14-3-2 when scoring more than one goal, and 12-0-1 when scoring three or more goals.
• The Preds’ penalty kill ranks ninth in the League (84.3 percent), and has allowed the eighth-fewest power-play goals (16). Nashville’s road penalty kill ranks among the League’s best (ninth; 85.2 percent), while its home penalty kill continues to improve (tied for 15th; 83.3 percent).
• Nashville’s penalty kill has allowed just three goals in its last 36 times shorthanded, and has only surrendered six power-play goals on 52 times shorthanded in their last 15 outings (88.4 percent).
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded goals – a span of 50 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• The Predators have had seven rookies appear in the lineup this season. They had eight rookies appear last season, and 11 during the 2011-12 campaign. Nashville is also one of two teams in the NHL to field multiple teenagers in its lineup (Filip Forsberg, 19 and Seth Jones, 19), only Buffalo has had more teenagers on its roster this season (four).
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 4, N.Y. Rangers 1 at Madison Square Garden
• Nick Spaling opening the scoring for Nashville with his fifth goal of the season. Spaling leads the team in shooting percentage (17.2 percent). Nashville is now 25-5-1 all-time when Spaling finds the back of the net.
• Carter Hutton made his first start since Nov. 10 at New Jersey, turning away 28-of-29 shots in the victory. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native is now 5-3-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.
• With an assist on Paul Gaustad’s third-period goal, Roman Josi now has four points (1g-3a) in his last four games.
• Eric Nystrom registered four shots and seven hits on the night to lead all Nashville skaters. Nystrom leads the team and ranks among the League’s Top 25 forwards with 76 hits on the year.
• For the second consecutive game, 14 of Nashville’s 18 skaters recorded at least a shot on goal.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Nashville has posted a 6-6-2 record at home in 2013-14. The Predators have been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 198 home victories, sixth most in the NHL in that span and one behind Anaheim and Pittsburgh for fourth. Nashville is the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive full seasons.