PANTHERS (13-14-0) at PREDATORS (13-8-6)
TV: FS-F (HD), FS-TN (HD)
Florida 5-5-0; Nashville 5-2-3
Season series --
First of two meetings in the regular season between inter-conference opponents. The Predators won both contests last season. J-P Dumont had the go-ahead goal in the third period when Nashville claimed a 3-1 win on home ice Nov. 28. In the rematch in Sunrise on March 29, Francis Bouillon
connected one minute into overtime to give the Predators a 3-2 triumph.
Big story --
Despite being ravaged by injuries, the Predators continue to be one of the League's stingiest groups. Nashville has allowed only 20 goals in the last 11 games, dating back to a 3-0 win Nov. 18 in Montreal. The team is sixth in the League with a 2.52 goals-against average. Goalies Pekka Rinne
(8-7-4, 2.38 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Anders Lindback
(5-1-2, 2.64 GAA, .919 save percentage) have played admirably all season. Rinne (left knee) could be sidelined up to four weeks and, in the interim, Lindback has gone 2-0-1.
Don't look know, but the Panthers have put together a tidy three-game winning streak, including a big 3-0 triumph over the Washington Capitals on Thursday as goalie Tomas Vokoun turned aside 36 shots, including 18 in the opening 20 minutes, to record his third shutout of the season. Michael Frolik, Steve Bernier and Mike Santorelli
scored the goals for Florida, which snapped a six-game losing streak against the Capitals in the process. On Tuesday, Stephen Weiss
scored his second goal of the game 43 seconds into overtime to give them a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Bill Thomas and David Booth
also had goals for Florida and Vokoun made 22 saves.
Predators -- Colin Wilson
, Martin Erat
and Dumont scored and Lindback turned aside 35 shots to lead the Predators to a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Wednesday -- giving the club their fourth win in five games and the sixth straight game in which they've earned at least one point.
"There's not any superstars on this team," captain Shea Weber
said. "So we need all 20 guys to play as a team."
Who's hot --
Nashville left wing Sergei Kostitsyn
has a four-game points streak, producing 1 goal and 4 assists over that span. He is a plus-6 in his last four games and six of his eight points this season have been on the road (3 goals, 3 assists). He's notched 3 goals and 8 points in 10:53 of ice time per game for the season.
Injury report --
Florida is missing Radek Dvorak (shoulder), Cory Stillman (back), Rostislav Olesz (finger) and Chris Higgins (foot), as well as defenseman Bryan Allen (foot). … Nashville has forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion) and David Legwand
(lower body) on injured reserve in addition to Rinne being out.
Stat pack --
Weiss' first of two goals on Tuesday moved him past Nathan Horton and into sole possession of third place on the Panthers' career scoring list with 296 points.
Puck drop --
The Panthers' penalty kill was ranked in the bottom third of the League last year, but is has turned it around in 2010-11. The club is currently ninth with an 84.9-percent efficiency, yielding just 13 goals in a League-low 86 times short. The Panthers denied the Capitals on all seven of their opportunities in recording a shutout on Thursday.
"It is a good feeling, and it's a credit to the guys in that locker room," said assistant coach Gord Murphy, who works Florida's penalty kill. "When you play a team with the firepower and multiple options Washington has over there, the guys knew they had to be good and be on their toes. I can't say enough for how they prepared and executed."