Predators seek rare victory against Lightning
Tuesday, 12.15.2009 / 7:00 PMLIGHTNING (11-12-9) at PREDATORS (19-11-3)
Last 10 --
Tampa Bay 2-6-2; Nashville 5-3-2
Season series --
In the first and only meeting of the season between the clubs, Nashville will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Lightning. Tampa Bay has outscored the Predators, 15-6, in four previous meetings, including a 4-1 victory in 2008-09. Nashville last celebrated a victory over Tampa Bay during the 2002-03 season, when it won twice.
Big Story --
The Predators will be without left wing Jordin Tootoo
(2 goals, 9 points), who was hit by a shot from teammate Shea Weber
in the first period of an overtime loss to Detroit on Saturday. … Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos
will be sporting a sore wrist from late last week but that hasn't kept him out of action. Stamkos has gone without a goal since Nov. 28, a span of eight games. He and the Lightning are looking to rebound from four straight losses.
After being held without a goal for the first 28 games of the season, defenseman Victor Hedman
scored twice in a three-game span last week. Lightning coach Rick Tocchet has liked what he's seen in Hedman. Hedman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, leads all rookies this season in average ice time (22:30).
"I think his decisions on when to go are getting better; the past couple of games he's making the right time to go up, where maybe a month ago he was going up anytime he wanted and that's why he was getting caught," Tocchet said. "Now he's starting to recognize the right time to go and being the fourth guy. And we really need to get that fourth guy in the play."
Nashville plays six of its next eight on the road after being at home for 12 of 15 games between Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. The club is 3-2-0 on the tail end of back-to-back sets this season and is coming off a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, with Steve Sullivan recording the hat trick. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne
owns a 2-0-2 record in his last four starts and is 13-3-2 in his last 18 decisions.
Who's Hot --
Nashville forward Martin Erat
has nine points (6 goals) in his last six games. He's tied with Vancouver's Daniel Sedin and Florida's Stephen Weiss for the most goals in the month of December with six and is fifth in the NHL in points this month with nine.
Injury Report --
Tootoo will miss the next 3-4 weeks for Nashville with a broken foot. … Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler is out with an arm injury.
Stat Pack --
Among current NHL players selected in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Lightning forwards Vincent Lecavalier
and Alex Tanguay rank first and second, respectively, in most career points with 695 and 596. … The Predators are 4-for-21 on the power play in the last five games after going 0-for-16 in the previous five. The team owns a 13-1-1 record when scoring a power-play goal.
Puck Drop --
The Predators have the second-fewest penalty minutes per game in the NHL, averaging approximately nine minutes per game, so the Lightning will likely have to generate much of their attack at even strength. Tampa has scored 53 of its 77 goals this season at even strength. Still, during the Lightning's recent 1-6-2 slump, the club has scored 13 goals.