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Red-hot Lightning set to host Preds

by Brian Compton
PREDATORS (4-0-3) at LIGHTNING (5-1-1)

TV:  RIS, Fox Sports-South; Sunshine Network.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last met on Dec. 15, 2009, when Nashville earned a 7-4 victory at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds scored five times in the second period.

Big Story: After missing the playoffs last season, the Lightning are off to a terrific start under first-year coach Guy Boucher. Tampa Bay has earned points in six of its first seven games and enters Sunday's action atop the Southeast Division standings.

Nashville, meanwhile, has earned points in all seven of its contests and has yet to lose a game in regulation. The Preds improved to 4-0-3 Saturday night with a 1-0 win at Dallas.

Team Scope:

Predators: Pekka Rinne was outstanding again for the Preds on Saturday night, as he stopped all 30 shots he faced for his 15th NHL shutout. What made the victory even more impressive was the fact that Dallas entered with 22 goals in its first six games.

"We knew (the Stars) had a good offense and a lot of firepower," Rinne said. "The last three games we lost in overtime, so we said this time, we just needed to get mad."

Lightning: After losing in overtime to the Islanders on Thursday night, Tampa Bay bounced back 24 hours later with a 5-2 win at Atlanta. Steven Stamkos, who is off to a terrific start, had a hat trick in the victory.

"The big thing for tonight's game was to start strong," said Stamkos, who has 14 points in seven games. "We just had to get shots on net and play our game."

Who's Hot: Cal O'Reilly scored the lone goal for Nashville on Saturday night and now has five points in seven games. … While Stamkos has been the early story in Tampa Bay, others have contributed, too. Martin St. Louis has eight points in seven games, while Mike Smith is 4-0-0 between the pipes.

Injury Report: Preds defenseman Ryan Suter is out with a lower-body injury, while Marcel Goc (shoulder) is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Matthew Lombardi is day-to-day with a concussion. … Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund (knee) is out, while Simon Gagne hopes to play after suffering a neck injury on Thursday against the Isles. Gagne did not play Friday.

Stat Pack: Stamkos registered his second career hat trick with a four-point night against Atlanta on Friday, giving the third-year center 12 goals in 14 career games against the Thrashers, including four in two games this season. Stamkos also has points in six of the seven games this season, including four multi-point games.

Puck Drop: "I felt the last game we played we were good, but that wasn't enough. We want to be great." -- Lightning coach Guy Boucher after Friday's win at Atlanta

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