By Amanda DiPaolo
Monday, the Nashville Predators put their franchise-record setting penalty killing streak on the line as they try to win their fourth straight game for the first time this year. The Predators travel to Atlanta to play the Thrashers.
This season, Nashville has an impressive 4-1-3 record against the Eastern Conference. When playing the Southeast Division specifically, Nashville is 3-0-1. With any luck, the Predators domination over the Eastern Conference this season will continue as 5 out of the next 9 games are against the East.
The Thrashers are 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, but are only 5 points out of 4th spot and are winners of 7 of their last 10 starts. Despite this being an East-West matchup, Atlanta also boasts a lot of players familiar with and to Nashville. Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, early Norris favorite Dustin Byfuglien, and new Captain Andrew Ladd have all come over to Atlanta from the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks in the off season.
Chris Mason also signed with Atlanta after St. Louis went in a different direction in the off season when they traded with Montreal for the rights to negotiate with Jaroslav Halak. Mason started his career with the Predators but got traded before the start of the 2008-09 season to the St. Louis Blues. However, Ondrej Pavelec has stolen the starting goaltending duties away from Mason as of late.
To extend the winning streak to four games, Nashville will have to find a way to contain Byfuglien. The former forward who was originally a defenseman has been reconverted back to defense and the switch has been a good one. The former Blackhawk leads the Thrashers in goals and assists, with 28 points.
The story out of Nashville as of late has been the play of their penalty kill. The Predators have not let in a goal while their opponents have had the man advantage since they allowed Toronto to score 4 power play goals in the second period on November 16th. That makes it nine games since a power play goal was scored against the Predators. Atlanta has the second best power play in the league converting 24.8% of their man advantage opportunities into goals.
The game is the first of a two-game series between the two clubs. Last season Nashville won both games. Their all-time record against the Thrashers is 7-4-(1)-1.
Game time is 6pm Central Time. The game can be watched on tv on Fox Sports Tennessee.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Come see Nashville former netminder Tomas Vokoun The next Predators home game is Saturday when the Florida Panthers come to town.