Game Preview #30: Niemi Returns To Nashville, Sharks Take On Predators


By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

San Jose 15-10-5
Nashville 15-8-6

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Marcel Goc #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates after scoring in the second period as Jason Demers #60 of the San Jose Sharks looks on during an NHL game at the HP Pavilion on November 10, 2009 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Last year, Marcel Goc celebrates after scoring against his old team. Can he repeat that performance with his new linemates, Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn? (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

The Nashville Predators have picked up points in their last eight games. Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena, the Preds try to make it nine. In fact, Nashville is used to collecting points at home with a 7-1-5 record on home ice. With only one regulation loss at home, Nashville is one of the toughest teams to beat playing in their own arena.

The Predators will also be trying to extend their winning streak to four games for the first time this season.

To continue their winning ways, Nashville will have to get through San Jose. Just one point behind Nashville in the standings, the Sharks, 7-6-2 on the road, are more beatable this year than in seasons past. At Bridgestone Arena, the Preds have a 11-10-1-0 record against San Jose. Last season, Nashville took only 2 points out of a possible 8 from the Sharks.

Anders Lindback will get his sixth consecutive start. Lindback is 4-0-1 with a 1.40 goals against average and a .955 save percentage in the last five games since Pekka Rinne suffered a knee injury against Columbus. Rinne should be ready to return by the end of the month.

Last time out, Nashville thumped the Islanders 5-0 on Monday night. Lindback recorded his second shutout in a row. It was the first time a Predators’ rookie netminder recorded two shutouts in two consecutive games. When adding Lindback’s two shutouts with Rinne’s three on the season, the Predators have the NHL’s second highest total tied with the New York Rangers.

Lindback has an opportunity to make a little history Wednesday night if he shuts out the Sharks. The shutout would mark only the third time a rookie would record three consecutive shutouts. Lindback would join Steve Mason of the Blues Jackets as well as Detroit’s Glenn Hall who did it in 1955.

The Sharks lost in a shootout to Dallas on Monday by a 3-2 score. The team is led by Dany Heatley who has 29 points, compared to Nashville’s points leader Cal O’Reilly who has 18 points.

Is Kostitsyn in our out? That’s the question that will be asked most on Wednesday leading up to game time. At the end of the third period he took a Shea Weber shot to the foot. According to Coach Trotz, Kostitsyn is ok. More information will be known at morning skate.

The Novopolotsk, Belarus native scored a goal and collected an assist on Monday night, extending a career high points streak to six games.

David Legwand, Pekka Rinne and Matthew Lombardi remain out of the lineup for Nashville. For the Sharks, Devin Setoguchi is out with an upper body injury. He was placed on injured reserve at the end of November.

Tonight’s game marks the return of Antti Niemi to Nashville. Last time the goaltender was in music city, he was sending Nashville packing in game six of the Western Conference quarter finals last April as a member of the eventual Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhaws.

Tonight’s game is important for positioning in the Western Conference. Nashville plays a back-to-back series on Friday and Saturday when they meet New Jersey and Los Angeles. The Kings are also a mere one point behind Nashville. With games also against Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis and Minnesota coming up in the next two weeks, this stretch of games in December might prove determinant for the Predators chances at the post season.

Game time is 7pm at the Bridgestone Arena. Ticket are still available for Wednesday night’s contest.
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Tags: Anders Lindback Antti Niemi Cal O'Reilly Chicago Blackhawks Dallas Stars Dany Heatley David Legwand Devin Setoguchi Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators New York Islanders NHL Pekka Rinne San Jose Sharks Sergei Kostitsyn St. Louis Blues