The Nashville Predators closed October with their longest winning streak of the season. They look to keep that surge going as they open November with a four-game road trip.
The Predators go for their fourth straight win Thursday night when they meet the Anaheim Ducks, who remain mired in an unexpected slow start.
Last week, Nashville (6-6-1) posted wins over Minnesota and Chicago before topping Dallas 4-2 at home Saturday. The Predators got third-period goals from Steve Sullivan(notes), Patric Hornqvist(notes) and Kevin Klein(notes) while Pekka Rinne(notes) finished with 27 saves.
“Overall our game has been improving over the last week or so,” Rinne said.
Rinne has been a big reason behind the Predators’ recent success. He came on in relief of Dan Ellis(notes) on Oct. 28 against the Wild, stopping all 12 shots faced to get the win. The next night, Rinne made 22 saves to blank the Blackhawks.
Rinne, who had a goals-against average of 0.76 in the three victories, was named the NHL’s second star of the week Monday. He’s 1-0-2 with a 2.26 GAA in three career starts versus Anaheim.
Having a healthy J.P. Dumont(notes) in the lineup has also helped Barry Trotz’s team. Dumont missed four games last month with a concussion, but has two goals and seven assists over his last five contests. He also has goals in three straight games in Anaheim.
Dumont leads the club with eight assists and 11 points, and he will be counted upon to continue producing with defenseman Shea Weber(notes) expected to miss this game with a foot injury. Weber leads Nashville with five goals, and was the club’s top scorer against the Ducks last season with a goal and four assists in four games.
Following this contest, the Predators will visit Los Angeles and San Jose before wrapping up the trip Nov. 12 in St. Louis.
Anaheim (4-7-2) lost for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday, falling 4-3 to Pittsburgh. The 2007 Stanley Cup champions reached the West semifinals last season, but now have the fewest wins in the conference and are tied with Minnesota for last with 10 points.
“We’re working hard, and if we keep playing the way we played tonight, we’re going to get bounces and create chances for ourselves. Everybody in here is trying their hardest,” said Perry, who led the Ducks with three goals as they went 2-1-1 versus Nashville last season.
Teemu Selanne(notes) was Anaheim’s top scorer against the Predators in 2008-09, with five assists and six points. The 17-year veteran - playing his final NHL season - is second on the team with six goals, but has only two in his last nine games.
Facing the Predators may help the future Hall of Famer snap out of his slump, as he has done well in recent games at the Honda Center against Nashville. The 10-time All-Star has recorded points in his last six of those matchups, totaling six goals and eight assists while helping Anaheim to a 5-0-1 record.
The Switzerland native is 4-5-1 with a 3.04 GAA in 10 starts, but has one win in his last six outings. He lost his only career start against Nashville, stopping 29 shots in a 4-2 defeat in December 2007.