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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (1-0-0) at Nashville Predators (1-0-0).
TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EDT.
If the first game is any sign, the city of Nashville feels a sense of belonging in the NHL with a star like Paul Kariya playing for the Predators.
He now tries to lead them to a win Saturday against his first club, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Kariya was the first-ever pick of the Mighty Ducks and fourth overall in 1993. He instantly became the face of the franchise in a 10-year tenure with the team, recording two 100-point seasons and helping the Ducks reach the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.
After an injury-plagued stint with the Colorado Avalanche before the lockout, Kariya again became a free agent and chose the Predators, who never had such a high-profile player pick their team in their six-year history, over more than a dozen other teams.
"I think all the rules changes really benefit this club. It's a team based on speed and work ethic and the goaltending. I think the rules changes that come into play are only going to benefit Nashville," said Kariya, who signed a two-year, $9 million contract in August. "And that's one of the reasons why I chose here."
Kariya was given a rousing welcome Wednesday in Music City, where the Predators opened their season with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. He was cheered every time he touched the puck and delighted fans with the game-tying goal early in the third period. Scott Hartnell netted the game-winning goal with 4:13 to play.
The Mighty Ducks made some aggressive free agent moves of their own in the offseason, and they paid immediate dividends in Wednesday's 5-2 win at Chicago.
Rob Niedermayer, the prized defensemen among all free agents, scored a power-play goal as did Teemu Selanne, who is back with the team for a second time.
"Getting the first goal was a relief," Selanne said. "The first win was more important."
Anaheim's special teams were excellent, getting two power-play goals and two short-handed tallies. Joffrey Lupul scored one while killing off a penalty and added another at even strength.
"I don't think I saw two seconds on penalty killing last year," Lupul said. "Now (coach) Randy (Carlyle) is giving me a great opportunity to kill penalties and work on the power play. It's something I've got to run with."
STANDINGS (through Oct. 6): Mighty Ducks - 2 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Predators - 2 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Lupul, 2 goals; Andy McDonald, 2 assists; Lupul and McDonald, 2 points; Todd Fedoruk, 7 PIM. Predators - Kariya, Hartnell and Scott Walker, 1 goal; Five players with 1 assist; Eight players with 1 point; Ryan Suter, 4 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 6): Mighty Ducks - Power play: 22.2 percent (2 for 9), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (8 for 9), 12th. Predators - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 3), 22nd (tied). Penalty killing: 100 percent (6 for 6), 1st (Tied).
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1-0-0, 0 SO, 3.00 GAA); Ilya Bryzgalov (no record). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (1-0-0, 0, 2.00); Chris Mason (no record).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Predators 3-1-0.
LAST MEETING: March 23, 2004; Mighty Ducks 4-1. At Nashville, Sandis Ozolinsh snapped a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal in the second period, and Vaclav Prospal added a goal and an assist to help Anaheim avoid a season series sweep.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 1-0-0 on the road; Predators - 1-0-0 at home.
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