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Nashville Predators travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild
Posted By News Staff On Friday, February 8, 2013 @ 8:00 pm In Sports | No Comments
Satuarday, February 9th | 7:00pm (CT)
St. Paul, MN | Excel Energy Center
Nashville, TN – The Nashville Predators are looking to extend their winning streak on Saturday, as they play the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul.
The Predators visit for the second and final time on Saturday night, with the final game of the season series coming at Bridgestone Arena on March 9th. Nashville played its first road game of 2012-13 at the Excel Energy Center on January 22nd, posting its first win of the season, 3-1.After falling behind 1-0, Nick Spaling tied the game late in the first, and after a scoreless second, Martin Erat potted the game-winning goal at 11:45 of the third. David Legwand added a power-play insurance marker in the final minute of regulation.
Chris Mason made his season debut in goal for the victory, stopping 29 shots.
Last month’s win extended Nashville’s active winning streak to four over the Wild dating back to December 28th, 2011, and helped improve it to 7-1-0 going back to December 31st, 2010. The Predators have also claimed victory in three of their last four trips to the Twin Cities, including January 31st, 2012, when Nashville scored four goals in the final 10:38 of regulation to down Minnesota 5-4 in the first game after the All-Star Break. It was one of two regulation wins by Nashville after trailing by three goals at some point in the game in 2011-12 – the Predators were was the only team to do it.
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all 32 shots he faced on Thursday vs. Los Angeles to record his 26th career shutout, and first of the 2012-13 season, in addition to his fourth consecutive win. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, the Kempele, Finland native is tied with the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist for first in shutouts (26), and tied with Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov for sixth in wins (141).
In the last four games, Rinne has stopped 112 of the 115 shots he’s faced for a .973 save percentage and a 0.74 goals-against average. Additionally, Rinne has not given up an even-strength goal in 290:26 going back to the Phoenix Coyotes game on January 28th, stopping 94 consecutive even-strength shots in that span. The 258th overall selection (eighth round) in the 2004 Entry Draft has lowered his 2012-13 goals-against average to 1.81, the fifth-best mark among netminders who have started more than two games, and .933 save percentage, sixth best in the NHL.
Overall, Nashville’s team defensive numbers are just as solid. The Predators have the lowest goals-against average in the League (1.80) and enter Saturday’s games tied with the Vancouver Canucks for the fewest even-strength goals against (10)
Saturday night, the Predators will start their second of nine sets of back-to-backs in 2012-13. Six times the Predators will play one game at home and one on the road, 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. In the Predators’ first set of back-to-backs this season on January 21st-22nd, they dropped a 4-3 shootout decision on home ice to the St. Louis Blues before downing the Wild in St. Paul, 3-1, the following evening.
The line of Gabriel Bourque, David Legwand and Colin Wilson has come up big for the Predators during their current four-game win streak. Since the 4-0 loss to Phoenix on Jan. 28, the line has been in on eight of Nashville’s 11 goals and has posted an even or better rating in the four victories.
Wilson recorded his second-career multi-goal game (Dec. 28, 2010 vs. Dallas) on Thursday night, giving him points in three straight games (2g-4a) for the second time in his career (Dec. 8-13, 2012). The Greenwich, Conn., native is now tied with Martin Erat for the team lead in point this season (3g-4a).
With his first period goal on Thursday night, Bourque has now posted points (2g-1a) in three of his last four games, including goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. The goal was also Bourque’s first game-winner of the season. Since returning the Predators on Jan. 22, the Rimouski, Que., native has recorded four points (2g-2a) in eight games.
Legwand has tallied two assists in his last four games; giving him four points (2g-2a) on the year for the Predators. He went 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) in the face-off circle on Thursday night and ranks among Nashville’s top face-off men after winning 50.3 percent of his draws this season (74-for-149).
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