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St. Louis MO – The Nashville Predators have become the “cardiac kids” their last two games, winning in a shoot-out both times. Tuesday night, they return to St. Louis to give the Blues, “the blues.”
This will be game No. 9 on the 2012-13 season, as Nashville will play the St. Louis Blues for the third time as the club winds down its franchise-record tying seven-game road trip. The Predators also visited St. Louis in game No. 2 of this trip back on Jan. 24th, falling by a 3-0 score. The teams also met Jan. 21 at Bridgestone Arena, with the Blues winning in a shootout, 4-3.
Four of the last seven games between Nashville and St. Louis have gone to a shootout, and dating back to 2005-06 when the shootout was implemented, Nashville has gone to a shootout 13 times with the Blues, more than any other team (8-5 record). Despite the two losses, Nashville has garnered points in six-of-eight games (4-2-2) against the Blues since the beginning of last season, and have a 41-30-12 record all-time in the series. While the Predators play Chicago and Columbus five times in 2012-13, they only meet St. Louis and Detroit four times; the final Predators-Blues meeting is set for April 9th in Nashville.
Nashville has won its last two games via shootout, meaning the team has gone to the post-overtime tiebreaker an NHL-high five times through its first eight games of 2012-13. The Predators dropped their first three shootout decisions, but got on track Thursday at Los Angeles (W, 2-1) and Saturday at San Jose (W, 2-1) with shooters going a combined 5 for 10 (50 percent) and Pekka Rinne stopping 8-of-11 shots (.727). On Saturday, Craig Smith converted for the second straight game, notching his first career shootout-deciding goal, while Rinne stopped all three shooters. Forty-eight hours prior, Nashville tied a franchise record with four shootout goals in an eight-round competition with the Kings courtesy of David Legwand, and first career markers by Gabriel Bourque, Sergei Kostitsyn (shootout-deciding goal) and Smith.
A season ago, Nashville only needed the shootout 10 times (5-5) – tied for eighth fewest times in the League – and didn’t reach its fifth shootout of the campaign until Feb. 7, 2012, game No. 53.
Nashville finished the California portion of its franchise-record tying seven-game road trip by allowing just a single goal in back-to-back games, meaning in three contests in the Golden State, the Predators allowed just four regulation goals. Through eight games in 2012-13, the team is allowing an average of 2.12 regulation goals per game, the fourth-best mark in the National Hockey League. Additionally, Nashville has allowed just 10 even-strength goals through eight games, an average of 1.25 per game – tied for fifth in the League.
Nashville Predators Forward Sergei Kostitsyn
Sergei Kostitsyn scored Nashville’s lone goal of Saturday’s game just 59 seconds into the third period, marking the second consecutive game the Predators scored in the opening minute of a period – Brandon Yip struck 58 seconds into the opening frame of Nashville’s 2-1 shootout win at Los Angeles on Thursday. The Predators also scored 39 seconds into the season opener (Martin Erat on Jan. 19th vs. Columbus), while Yip scored at the 1:52 mark of the first period on Jan. 26th at Anaheim as well.
San Jose and Nashville needed more than 60 minutes to determine a winner for the fifth time in their last seven meetings, and on the 13th occasion all-time… Sergei Kostitsyn opened the scoring with his first goal of the season at 0:58 of the third period. Colin Wilson notched his first assist of the campaign on the goal… Pekka Rinne stopped 26-of-27 shots to pick up his second straight win, meaning he has turned aside 49 of the last 51 shots he’s faced.
Nashville doled out 30 hits, led by Paul Gaustad’s game-high five. Gaustad also led all skaters with 15 face-off wins on 24 tries (63 percent)… Craig Smith put a team-high and personal season-high five shots on goal… Shea Weber led all Nashville skaters in ice time (29:34). He has led the Predators in ice time in seven straight games (Roman Josi played a team-high 27:30 in the season opener), and is fifth in the league in average ice time (27:32).
The Predators were without their two points leaders – Martin Erat (2g-2a) and Patric Hornqvist (1g-3a). Erat also led the team in points last season (58), while Hornqvist led the team in goals (27).