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Nashville, TN – The Nashville Predators are coming off a disappointing overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild last night to return to “Smashville” to host the red hot Chicago Blackhawks.
On Saturday night, Paul Gaustad tallied his first regular-season goal in a Predators sweater when he beat Niklas Backstrom midway through the first period – he tallied his first goal for the Predators in Game One of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Detroit (April 11, 2012). With the goal, Gaustad now has posted three points (1g-2a) in his last three games. He tallied his first multi-point effort (2a) of the season on Tuesday against the Blues – it was his first multi-point game since Jan. 31, 2012 (1g-2a). The Portland, Ore., native has been the Predators top face-off man this season and ranks among the League’s top players in face-off efficiency after winning 60.5 percent (103 of 170) of his face-offs this season, including 48 of 74 draws in Nashville’s last three games (64.8 percent).
EXTRA TIME REQUIRED AGAIN
The Predators went to extra time for the sixth time through 11 2012-13 games on Saturday at Minnesota, but for the first time in those six, the game was ended before the shootout. Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi scored a power-play goal with 39 seconds remaining in sudden death to drop Nashville to 2-4 in post-third period play. In the two extra-time games prior to Saturday, the Predators claimed shootout decisions, winning Jan. 31st at Los Angeles and Feb. 2 at San Jose by identical 2-1 scores. 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. 7th, 2012, game No. 53. In 2011-12, the team didn’t need extra time for a sixth time until game No. 28 on Dec. 8th, 2011 against Columbus.
Nashville Predators Goaltender Pekka Rinne
Sunday’s game marks the 82nd all-time meeting between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks and is the first of five contests between the clubs in 2012-13. After tonight, they don’t meet again until April, when they see each other four times in a three-week span (April 1, 6, 7 and 19). A season ago, the Predators claimed their first outright season series victory over the Blackhawks since 2006-07, posting a 4-1-1 record and outscoring Chicago 25-16. The Predators have claimed four of the last six meetings between the clubs on Bridgestone Arena ice, and has posted a 21-13-6 record all-time against the Hawks at Bridgestone Arena.
Prior to dropping the last meeting of the 2011-12 season by a 5-4 score on March 31st, 2012, the Predators posted a 4-0-1 record against the Hawks, including their largest margin of victory on the season in a 6-1 win on March 25th, 2012. Nashville also won by scores of 5-2 (Jan. 21st), 3-2 (Jan. 24th) and 3-1 (Feb. 14th), while scoring a combined eight goals in its two losses, meaning the Predators averaged 4.2 goals per game against the Blackhawks in 2011-12 with the power play being particularly successful, converting on 6-of-17 attempts (35.3 percent).
David Legwand led all Predators in scoring against Chicago a season ago with nine points (1g-8a) in six games. He has 55 career points (19g-36a) against Chicago – more points and assists than any other player against any team in franchise history… Patric Hornqvist (4g-3a-7pts, 5gp) and Mike Fisher (2g-4a-6pts, 5gp) also produced at greater than a point per game pace a season ago… Martin Erat has 15 points (6g-9a) in his last 18 games against Chicago.