Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Predators Hope to Start New Win Streak in Ottawa

The Nashville Predators (32-17-5) have put together several formidable win streaks in the last two months but have gone 1-1-1 in the last three games after Tuesday's 4-3 shoot-out loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Preds hope to set their ship in the right direction against the Ottawa Senators (27-22-7) at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. (FS-TN).

The talk at the rink will be about the return of Mike Fisher to Ottawa where he was dearly embraced by the community and the fans. His return is a day short of the one year mark of the trade that sent him to Music City where he was reunited with country star wife, Carrie Underwood.

The real story is the Predators playing the front end of a crucial two-game road trip that will also send them to the home of the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Predators are the NHL's hottest team going 14-3-1 in their last 18 games and have a goalie that is on fire in Pekka Rinne, who is undefeated in regulation in his last 12 starts, going 11-0-1.

The Senators were the darlings of the Eastern Conference earlier in the season but have lost seven in a row and  have dropped to eight place in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of falling out of a playoff position with a loss to the Predators.

This is only the Predators' eight trip to Ottawa in franchise history and the Predators are 3-4-0 in spite of winning their last two games. Their last game at Scotiabank Place was on October 22, 2009 when the Predators were mired in an early season six-game losing streak and pulled out a 6-5 overtime win in a wild game where the teams exchanged leads until Shea Weber won it in sudden death.

While the Predators have balanced scoring, with a league leading nine players in double digits in goals, Nashville's top line of Fisher, Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn have been on unstoppable during the Predators recent successful run.

Fisher (9g-8a) and Erat (4g-13a) have each had 17 points in the last 18 games. Kostitsyn has 15 points (9g-6a) in his last 16 games and has scored nine times on his last 22 shots and leads the league in shooting percentage (25.0%).

Rinne appears to be making a strong bid for the Vezina Trophy (best goalie) with an incredible second-half run, going 20-2-1 since December 8. Rinne is 14-1-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage since Dec. 28.

The Predators currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with 69 points, five behind Detroit who beat Edmonton 4-2 on Wednesday night.

The Predators will leave and travel to Boston immediately after the contest.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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